Guidance for Healthcare Professionals

HEALTHCARE PROVIDER HOTLINE: Healthcare professionals who need to report potential monkeypox cases are encouraged to call (832) 927-7442. The phone line is open Monday through Friday 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

After hours and weekend on-call:  (713) 755-5050

Monkeypox: Guidance for Health Professionals

Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. Monkeypox most often occurs throughout Central and West Africa, but is now being reported in several countries around the world with the United Kingdom reporting the highest numbers outside of Africa. . Monkeypox does not spread easily between people without close contact.

Harris County Public Health (HCPH) is working with the CDC, and the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) to educate the community about the disease and be a resource for local providers who have patients with suspected or known diseases.

The threat of monkeypox to the general U.S. population remains LOW. However, HCPH urges local healthcare providers to be alert for patients who have rash illnesses consistent with monkeypox.

Updates

On June 29, 2022, the Biden Administration and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HCC) announced an enhanced national vaccination strategy to mitigate the spread of monkeypox.

Under the strategy, HHS is rapidly expanding access to thousands of the two-dose JYNNEOS vaccines for prophylactic use in areas with the highest transmission and need. In September 2019, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of JYNNEOS for protection against smallpox and monkeypox in individuals 18 years and older determined to be at high risk for either infection.

As part of the national strategy to control the spread of monkeypox, HPCH will work with state and federal authorities to obtain the JYNNEOS vaccine for those individuals at high risk of monkeypox exposure as identified by their primary care provider or local health authority.  

Reporting Monkeypox

If your facility has a suspected monkeypox case, please call your local or state health department first. If you are not sure which health department to call, you can contact the Texas Department of State Health Services Health (DSHS) Service Region 6/5 South at (713) 767-3000.

Your local (or state) health department epidemiologist (EPI) will conduct the initial investigation. If monkeypox is suspected, the health department may consult with DSHS and/or the Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC) Emergency Operations Center (EOC). A case number may be assigned by CDC.

Your facility will collect specimens appropriately and coordinate with the Local Health Authority to send them to the health department’s Laboratory Response Network (LRN) laboratory for testing by real-time PCR. Collect two (duplicate) multi-lesion dry swabs as follows:

  1. Use a sterile nylon, polyester, or Dacron swab with plastic, wood, or thin aluminum shaft. Do not use other types of swabs.
  2. Swab or brush multiple lesions (generally 2-3 lesions, preferably from different locations on the body and/or from lesions with differing appearances) vigorously with a sterile dry swab.
  3. Break off the end of the applicator of each swab into a 1.5- or 2-mL sterile screw-capped tube with an O-ring or place each entire swab in an empty sterile tube/container (preferred). If you do not have empty sterile tubes, you can put the swab in a viral transport media (VTM) tube. Universal transport media (UTM) tube cannot be used. Label the tube with the patient’s name, date of birth, and specimen collection date.
Regional Health Departments

Below is a list of health departments throughout the Houston region. Each department works with health care providers within their respective jurisdictions to investigate human disease cases or outbreaks.

Contact the department closest to your location to report suspected monkeypox cases.

Texas Department of State 
Health Services Region 6/5
Phone: (713) 767-3000
After Hours: (800) 270-3128
Fax: (713) 767-3006

Harris County Public Health
Phone: (713) 439-6000
After Hours: (713) 755-5050
Fax: (713) 439-6306

Houston Health Department
Phone: (832) 393-5080 (24 hrs. #)
Fax: (832) 393-5232

Fort Bend County Health and Human Services
Phone: (348) 481-6500
After Hours: (832) 612-7761
Fax: (832) 471-1817

Galveston County Health District
Phone: (409)938-2322
After Hours: (888) 241-0442
Fax: (409) 938-2399

Montgomery County Public Health Department
Phone: (936) 523-5026
After Hours: (800) 825-9754
Fax: (936) 539-9272

Brazoria County Health Department
Phone: (979) 864-2168
After Hours: (800) 511-1632
Fax: (979) 864-3694

Chambers County Health Department
Phone: (409) 267-2731
After Hours: (409) 267-9862
Fax: (409) 267-4276

Beaumont Public Health Department
Phone: (409)654-3603
After Hours: (409) 998-3389
FAX: 409-832-4270

Hardin County Health Department/Orange County
Telephone: (409)209-5363
After Hours: (409) 659-7759
Fax: (409)246-4373 or (409)246-5263

Port Arthur Public Health Department
Phone: 409-983-8832