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Monkeypox.... what it is and how to avoid it

(AP Photo / Haven Daley)

More than 18,100 cases of monkeypox have been reported in the US, 1,604 of which have been in Texas according to the CDC. Today, in Harris county, state health officials reported the death of a person diagnosed with monkeypox. The case is under investigation as to what role monkeypox played in the death. If monkeypox is confirmed as the cause of death, this will be the first fatal case in the US. And yes, monkeypox has reached the El Paso County area.

What can you do prevent becoming infected or spreading monkeypox, well, frankly, take a break from intimate contact. Avoid close, skin to skin contact with people that have a rash that looks like monkeypox, avoid contact with objects and materials they have used, and wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Vaccines are available for folks considered high risk because they were in close contact with someone with a confirmed case.

Similar to coronavirus, folks who are not aware that they have monkeypox could spread it. Early symptoms occur about 7-14 days after exposure include ambiguous complaints such as fever, headache, muscle aches and backache, swollen lymph nodes, sore throat, nasal congestion, cough, chills, and exhaustion… all symptoms that could be attributed to a number of illnesses. You might get all the symptoms, or just one of them.

About 1-3 days later, a rash that can look like pimples or blisters appears, usually inside the mouth, on the face, hands, feet, chest, genitals, or anus. Some folks get the rash before other symptoms, while some only get the rash.

The rash goes through several stages, including scabs before healing.

Monkeypox can spread from the time you first have symptoms until all of the symptoms are gone (rash is entirely healed and new skin has grown over the area).

Here is a basic explanation of your level of risk in contracting monkeypox:

If someone you have had close contact with is diagnosed or showing the signs of the rash like those above, contact the El Paso County Health Department 915-212-0000 or 311.

More information is available here:

Let’s all stay safe out there!

Brenda Risch, PhD, LCSW

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