TEMPLE, Texas (FOX 44) – Despite monkeypox cases being confirmed in Texas, the Bell County Public Health District says there have been no confirmed cases within its area.

Director Amy J. Yeager made this announcement on Thursday morning. The first confirmed case of monkeypox in a Texas resident was reported on June 7, and there are now 110 confirmed cases across Texas. 

Yeager says the number of new cases across the country and in Texas has been steadily increasing, and the Health District is working closely with the Texas Department of Health and Human Services (DSHS) and local health care partners to educate the public and detect any potential cases in the area so further spread can be limited.

Yeager says monkeypox is an infection caused by the monkeypox virus – which is in the same class of viruses that causes smallpox and vaccinia, but not chickenpox. Monkeypox was first detected in humans in the early 1970s, and until recently, was primarily found in several central and western African countries. 

However, occasional cases have been found in the U.S. and elsewhere. Those cases were primarily related to travel exposures or exposures to imported animals. However, in over half of the new cases reported in Texas and the U.S., there has not been a link to travel.

Symptoms of monkeypox infection include fever, chills, headache and muscle aches, and swollen lymph glands, followed by a rash which lasts from three to five days after the fever starts. The rash could start anywhere on the body, but most commonly starts on the face. 

However, with the current outbreak, Yeager says the rash often starts in the genital area. People can become infected with monkeypox through close personal contact with an infected person – including sexual contact. In most cases, the infection clears up without specific treatment – but those who are immunosuppressed, are living with HIV, or who are pregnant are at higher risk of complications.

Yeager says the best way to help stop further spread of the disease is to quickly identify anyone who is infected and their contacts. If you think you may have been exposed to someone with monkeypox, or develop any of the symptoms described above, you are urged to contact your health care provider or the Bell County Public Health District immediately so testing can be done and treatment – if indicated – can be started.  

For more information on Monkeypox, you can go to www.cdc.gov/poxvirus/monkeupox/respose/2022/index.html.