Monkeypox Guidance
MONKEYPOX HOTLINE: Residents who have questions regarding testing, vaccinations, and more monkeypox guidance are encouraged to call the hotline 832-927-0707.
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About Monkeypox

Monkeypox is a zoonotic disease that is caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. Zoonotic diseases are infectious diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans and humans to humans. It is endemic in parts of Africa and has recently spread to many countries around the world.  Scientists are unsure why it is now spreading outside of Africa.

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) is currently tracking cases of monkeypox recently detected in the United States. Harris County Public Health urges healthcare providers across the county to be alert for patients who have rash illnesses consistent with monkeypox.

Monkeypox Hotline:

832-927-0707

Hours of operation:


Monday-Friday 8:00 am – 5:00 pm 

Saturday 8:00 am – 3:00 pm 

Calls made after hours will be answered within 24 hours.


Monkeypox Hotline Flyers
Monkeypox Vaccine Eligibility Information
How to Test for Monkeypox


Harris County Data Disclaimer
While a good-faith effort is made to post accurate information, neither Harris County nor Harris County Public Health (HCPH) makes any representations whatsoever as to the quality, content, accuracy, or completeness of any information being posted to this website or application and contained herein, nor does it guarantee that any such information is current or correct. Harris County and HCPH make no warranties, express or implied, as to the fitness of any such information for any purpose, or with respect to results obtained by individuals or other entities resulting from the use of any purpose, or with respect to results obtained by individuals or other entities resulting from the use of any such information. Neither Harris County nor the HCPH assumes any responsibility for the use, dissemination, distribution, or reliance upon by third parties of any such information. Further, Harris County and HCPH do not endorse any website that has a link to or from this website or application.
Monkeypox Dashboard Information

Why New Case Rates Matter 

Controlling the rate of monkeypox transmission is important. The number of daily new cases is an important indicator of the success of controlling monkeypox transmission through the current public health interventions. We have averaged the daily new cases over the previous 14 days to account for reporting delays.  

 
Data Source*: Harris County Public Health (HCPH), Houston Health Department (HHD) 
Formula: The average of the total number of new* cases in the past 14 days, divided by the population of Harris County, multiplied by 100,000 

* A new case is a case with a symptom onset date or a specimen collection date within the past 14 days. Due to lab turnaround and the reporting of results to local public health departments, cases may be reported and confirmed more than 14 days after the specimen collection date or the date of symptom onset. As a result, case rates may change over time.  


Why New Case Trends Matter

As Harris County monitors day-to-day trends, a 14-day flat trend or decreasing trend in new cases will indicate the spread of the disease is slowing. The closer the trend is to 0, the better indication that the spread is slowing. A positive number indicates the disease is transmitting more quickly than in previous days, 0 indicates constant spread, and a negative number indicates a slow disease transmission.

Data Source*: Harris County Public Health (HCPH), Houston Health Department (HHD)
Formula: The 14-day slope of newly reported cases vs Day

* A newly reported case is a case with a symptom onset date or a specimen collection date within the past 14 days. Due to lab turnaround and the reporting of results to local public health departments, cases may be reported and confirmed more than 14 days after the specimen collection date or the date of symptom onset. As a result, new case trends may change over time.  



Harris County Situation Update

The HHS Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices currently recommends vaccination for those at high risk following confirmed monkeypox exposures. The general threat of monkeypox to the public is considered LOW at this time. However, scientists at the CDC are tracking multiple cases of monkeypox that have been reported in several countries that don’t normally report monkeypox including the United States.

Monkeypox vaccinations are available to individuals who have been directly exposed to monkeypox and/or are at a moderate to high risk of contracting the monkeypox virus. It is not recommended for everyone and will be provided to residents pending authorization from the local health department in partnership with a primary care provider or approved medical group.

HCPH also calls on our local healthcare partners to be vigilant and report cases of monkeypox to their local health department immediately when confirmed. HCPH’s disease surveillance team will monitor suspected cases in Harris County and guide individuals who may have come in contact with a monkeypox case.

Harris County Public Health will continue to monitor and provide monkeypox guidance and vaccination opportunities for residents as the situation continues to unfold.  


CDC Monkeypox Case Map

The CDC has produced a monkeypox case map that includes all confirmed cases of monkeypox in the country. This map is updated daily. Residents can view the map by clicking here and downloading case count information at the bottom of the page.

For additional information regarding the monkeypox virus, please visit the CDC's website.





Prevention and Treatment Options

What actions can be taken to prevent infection with the monkeypox virus?

Take the following steps to prevent getting monkeypox:

  • Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash that looks like monkeypox.
  • Do not touch the rash or scabs of a person with monkeypox symptoms. 
  • Do not kiss, hug, cuddle or have sex with a person who has monkeypox.
  • Do not share eating utensils or cups with a person with monkeypox.
  • Do not handle or touch the bedding, towels, or clothing of a person with monkeypox.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • If you are sick with monkeypox, isolate yourself at home and stay in a separate room or area away from people or pets you live with, when possible.

What treatments are available?

The JYNNEOS vaccine is a two-dose, safe vaccine that is administered as a live virus that is non-replicating. The vaccine is used for protection against smallpox and monkeypox in individuals 18 years and older determined to be at high risk for smallpox or monkeypox infection. People who receive JYNNEOS are not considered vaccinated until they receive both vaccine doses, which are given four weeks apart. Full protection is not conferred until two weeks after receipt of the second dose.

Antivirals, such as tecovirimat (TPOXX), may be recommended for people who are more likely to get severely ill, like patients with weakened immune systems.

Who can I reach out to for more information?

HCPH encourages residents to call their primary care provider if they begin to experience symptoms or fear they may have been exposed to someone with monkeypox.

For more questions or guidance regarding monkeypox, residents can call the HCPH monkeypox hotline at 832-927-0707.  

Monkeypox Vaccination Strategy

The monkeypox vaccine is only for eligible residents who meet the criteria below and is subject to availability (first-come-first-served basis).

GROUP A

  • Are confirmed to have had known contact with someone with monkeypox virus
  • Are aware that a recent (within the past 14 days) sex partner was diagnosed with monkeypox virus
  • Attended an event or venue where there was a high risk of exposure to someone with confirmed monkeypox virus through skin-to-skin or sexual contact

GROUP B

  • Works in certain occupational exposure risk groups, such as research laboratory personnel working with orthopoxviruses, clinical laboratory personnel performing diagnostic testing for orthopoxviruses, and orthopoxvirus and health care worker response teams
  • Has had multiple or anonymous sex partners, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation
  • Is a sex worker or staff (of any sexual orientation or gender) at establishments where sexual activity occurs (e.g., bathhouses, saunas, sex clubs)
  • Has had a diagnosis of one or more sexually transmitted diseases (i.e. chlamydia, gonorrhea, or early syphilis) within the previous 12 months
  • Is HIV positive or on HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP)
  • Is a sexual partner of people with the above risks
  • Anticipates experiencing the above risks
  • Has an immunocompromising condition that may increase their risk for severe disease if infected with the monkeypox virus, such as atopic dermatitis or eczema

People who fall under these eligibility requirements can get vaccinated by:

  • Contacting their doctor or healthcare provider to find out if they are providing the monkeypox vaccine.
  • Contacting their local health department to determine eligibility.

Please note: Houston and Harris County do not currently have adequate vaccine supply to vaccinate everyone who meets the CDC criteria. We are working with our local, state, and federal officials to procure more and will expand our current eligibility criteria if/when we receive more.

  • Residents who DO NOT meet the current eligibility criteria will NOT receive the vaccine.
  • Not everyone who meets the criteria will receive the vaccine if we run out.

HCPH's Role in Vaccination and Prevention Strategy

HCPH will work to protect human health through testing, case investigation, and vaccination to quickly identify, isolate and, treat individuals that have or may have Monkeypox. HCPH may act in support of local healthcare providers who will take the lead on specimen collection and vaccine administration, when possible. The aim of this work, in addition to community and healthcare practitioner education on Monkeypox and effective prevention techniques, is to limit the spread of Monkeypox in Harris County. 

The general operational strategy for the HCPH response to the 2022 Monkeypox Outbreak is composed of 5 major components: Education, Call Center, Testing, Case Investigation, and Vaccination. 


Community Outreach and Education
Responding to inquiries on diagnosis, testing, and vaccination from healthcare providers and clinicians.

Call Center
Operate a call center to respond to public inquiries during business hours. Operate a separate 24/7 phone line to respond to public health and medical practitioner inquiries

Testing
Determining eligibility for Monkeypox testing on a case-by-case basis. HCPH will help facilitate sample collection and transport by a private healthcare provider. Our agency will also send 'Field Testing Teams' to conduct sample collection when needed.

Case Investigation 
Taking a case history and conducting contact tracing. Our team will notify contacts that they may have been exposed and educate them on PEP vaccination and what symptoms to monitor.

Vaccination
Determining vaccine eligibility and whether people meet CDC/HCPH definition of at risk. Ordering and coordinating the delivery of vaccines from the federal strategic national stockpile. Facilitation of administration of the Monkeypox vaccine and scheduling of a follow-up visit for a second dose when needed.