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Harris County Public Health gives monkeypox update, guidance for community

Harris County Public Health has a hotline set up for those who have questions on the monkeypox vaccine. The number is 832-927-0707.

HOUSTON — Harris County Public Health is urging those eligible to receive the monkeypox vaccine to make an appointment as soon as possible.

This comes after the health department confirmed a patient who was presumptive positive for monkeypox, and also had other severe illnesses, died Sunday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is working to confirm a positive status from the test sample. The cause of death of the patient is unknown. 

During a press conference Tuesday, Dr. Ericka Brown said those who are severely immunocompromised should get the vaccine. 

RELATED: Harris County resident with various illnesses, including a presumptive positive case of monkeypox, dies, health officials confirm

Those wanting a vaccination can call the Harris County Public Health hotline at 832-927-0707 to make an appointment. 

As of Tuesday, the health department reported a total of 563 monkeypox cases with 455 of those cases in Houston.

For a look at how the Lone Star State compares to other states, check this CDC map.

RELATED: Monkeypox: Track Houston area, local counties and Texas case numbers; get answers to common questions

Who is eligible for the monkeypox vaccine?

The latest Texas Department of State Health Services criteria for others who are eligible now includes these people:

  • People with a known or possible exposure to the Monkeypox virus remain the highest priority for vaccination.  

For people 18 and older the list includes: 

  • Men who have sex with men and have had multiple or anonymous sex partners within the previous 21 days;
  • Have a sex partner who is showing symptoms of monkeypox, such as a rash or sores;
  • Have had a diagnosis of HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhea, or early syphilis, within the previous 12 months;
  • Are on HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis;
  • Have a condition that may increase their risk for severe disease if infected with monkeypox virus, such as HIV, atopic dermatitis or eczema.

RELATED: Monkeypox: Track Houston area, local counties and Texas case numbers; get answers to common questions

How does monkeypox spread?

  • The disease, which can cause a serious skin rash, appears to be spreading largely via direct contact with the skin or saliva of an infected person.
  • Monkeypox can spread from person to person through direct contact with the rash, scabs, or bodily fluids like saliva.
  • It can also be transmitted with prolonged face-to-face contact via respiratory droplets.  
  • Pregnant women can transmit the virus to their fetuses through the placenta.
  • At this time, it's not known if monkeypox can spread through semen or vaginal fluids. However, the DSHS says the majority of Texas cases, so far, involve men who've had sex with other men.

Monkeypox symptoms

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Chills 
  • Exhaustion
  • Rash that looks like pimples or blisters; the rash often appears first on the face and/or inside the mouth and then on other parts of the body.

Anyone who develops a rash should avoid direct contact with other people and contact their health care provider as soon as possible for the next steps.

For more answers to some commonly asked questions from the Centers for Disease Control, click here.

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