Monkeypox Guidance
Monkeypox Banner Image Crop

MONKEYPOX HOTLINE: HCPH has set up a hotline for monkeypox guidance. Residents who have questions regarding testing, vaccinations, and more monkeypox guidance are encouraged to call 832-927-0707.


About Monkeypox

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 Flyers
Monkeypox Vaccine Eligibility Information
How to Test for Monkeypox


Monkeypox Case Count (as of 8/5/22)
City of Houston Harris County Total
151 22 173


*Updated Monday through Friday at 5:00 PM
** The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a Monkeypox Case Count dashboard for states. To view their case count map, click here.

Monkeypox Cases Reported_HCPH and COH_ 08.01.2022



Harris County Situation Update

The HHS Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices currently recommends vaccination for those at high risk following a confirmed monkeypox exposure. 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 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 into 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 download case count information at the bottom of the page.

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

 


 




Monkeypox FAQs

What is monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a rare, zoonotic disease that is caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. Zoonotic diseases are infectious diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans, humans to animals, and humans to humans.  

How does monkeypox spread?

There are multiple ways monkeypox can spread:

  • Direct person-to-person contact with the infected rash, scab, or body fluid of the individual with monkeypox
  • By respiratory secretion, face-to-face contact, or intimate interactions such as cuddling, kissing, and sex. It is particularly important to monitor pregnant women as the disease can spread to the fetus.
  • Touching items (such as clothing or linens) that previously touched the infectious rash or body fluids.
  • In rare cases, monkeypox can spread from infected animals, either by being scratched or bitten by the animal or by eating meat or using products from an infected animal.

What are the symptoms of monkeypox?

Symptoms will often include rashes that can look like pimples or blisters. These can appear on the face, inside the mouth, and in other parts of the body such as hands, feet, chest genitals, or anus. Rashes will go through different stages before healing completely, a process that can remain for several weeks. Some individuals who have monkeypox will only experience rashes, however, other symptoms that are common with monkeypox include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches and backache
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Chills
  • Exhaustion

How long does it take for someone infected with monkeypox to show symptoms?

Monkeypox symptoms usually start to show within two weeks of exposure to the virus.

How dangerous is it?

While mild or severe cases can be extremely painful and require hospitalization, over 99% of people who get this form of the disease are likely to survive. However, people with weakened immune systems, children under 8 years of age, people with a history of eczema, and people who are pregnant or breastfeeding may be more likely to get seriously ill or die.

Is a vaccine available yet?

Yes. However, 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.

The vaccine is available only to those individuals who have been directly exposed to monkeypox and/or are at high risk of contracting the monkeypox virus. Residents seeking a monkeypox vaccine should first seek guidance from their primary care provider.

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. 
  • Do not kiss, hug, cuddle or have sex with someone with 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.

What treatments are available?

HHS’s new monkeypox vaccination plan will include the distribution of the two-dose JYNNEOS vaccine. JYNNEOS is a safe vaccine and 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 general questions or guidance regarding Monkeypox, residents can call the HCPH Monkeypox hotline at 832-927-0707.  

Monkeypox Vaccination Strategy

What are the current monkeypox vaccination guidelines?
CDC recommends vaccination for people who have been exposed to monkeypox and people who are at higher risk of being exposed to monkeypox, including:

  • People who public health officials have identified as a contact of someone with monkeypox
  • People who may have been exposed to monkeypox, such as:
  • People who are aware that one of their sexual partners in the past 2 weeks has been diagnosed with monkeypox
  • People who had multiple sexual partners in the past 2 weeks in an area with known monkeypox
  • People whose jobs may expose them to orthopoxviruses, such as:
  • Laboratory workers who perform testing for orthopoxviruses
  • Laboratory workers who handle cultures or animals with orthopoxviruses
  • Some designated healthcare or public health workers

What is the vaccination strategy?

The vaccines will be prioritized for individuals who are at risk of monkeypox, prioritize vaccines for areas with the highest numbers of cases, and provide guidance to state, territorial, tribal, and local health officials to aid their planning and response efforts.

What is HCPH’s role in the vaccination and prevention strategy against monkeypox?

HCPH is working with the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) and local partners to monitor the monkeypox situation closely, which includes any updates about federal shipments of the monkeypox vaccine or testing enhancements that come to Harris County.

HCPH remains on standby for notifications to monitor people who are exposed to the virus or reports of suspected cases. We ask that residents and partners alike remain vigilant and help share monkeypox information moving forward.

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.