HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) – Hidalgo county confirmed its first Monkeypox case, making it the second case in the Rio Grande Valley as Cameron county confirmed its first case on August 16. The additional monkeypox case has now led health officials to initiate contact tracing to try to find out who might have caught the virus.
Dr. Christopher Romero, an internal medicine specialist at Valley Baptist Medical Center in Harlingen said the transmission of monkeypox normally occurs with intimate contact but said it can also spread in other ways.
“It can still be transmitted from person to person through direct contact, close contact, it can potentially be spread by contaminated objects, such as clothing or bedding that somebody infected with monkeypox has been using,” said Dr. Romero.
In Texas, more than a thousand monkeypox cases have been reported in Texas by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). In the Rio Grande Valley, there are two reported monkeypox cases, one in Cameron County and the new one in Hidalgo County.
“Unfortunately, this current wave of monkeypox is impacting multiple countries around the world,” said Dr. Romero.
While there is still more to know about the disease, Dr. Romero said you can help prevent it by practicing good hygiene.
“Avoid touching your face and other areas where you may get infected if you’re out and about, just continue to do the same thing we’ve been talking about for the past few years, which is washing your hands and avoiding spreading germs around our community,” said Dr. Romero.
Although there has been an increase in monkeypox cases nationwide, Dr. Romero said the transmission risk for the virus is nowhere near as big as covid-19.
“It’s not like we see with an airborne respiratory virus, although one of the recommendations is that if somebody does have respiratory symptoms, if they are coughing, sometimes that can develop in a patient who has monkeypox, that they do wear a mask,” said Dr. Romero.
Vaccines for monkeypox are available for those affected and at risk for the disease at Westbrook clinics in Harlingen and McAllen.
Anyone who suspects to have monkeypox symptoms is advised to isolate and contact their doctor.