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Just last week, Dallas County health officials sought to reassure the public that it was ready for any eventual monkeypox outbreak. Tuesday afternoon, the county reported that it is investigating a monkeypox case in a Dallas County resident.
The patient, according to a news release from Dallas County Health and Human Services, had traveled internationally in the last month to a country that also has reported monkeypox cases. The individual was on a flight from Mexico to Dallas. Preliminary tests were positive Monday, and the county said that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lab in Atlanta will include it in their official case counts.
Last week, DCHHS director Dr. Philip Huang told the Dallas Morning News that he was confident that the county was prepared for cases of the viral infection.
“We’ve dealt with it before. We’ve dealt with other things like it before. I think we are certainly well-prepared,” he said.
Part of that confidence, he said, came from the way the county was able to isolate and contain its last case of monkeypox in July 2021, when a patient who had recently traveled from Lagos, Nigeria, tested positive. County health officials isolated that patient and initiated contact tracing on the patient’s close contacts, with a team of county, state, and CDC officials monitoring those close contacts for 21 days after their potential exposure. None of them ever developed symptoms.
This time, the county’s press release indicates that they will follow the same protocol.
“Public Health officials have identified individuals who have had direct contact with the patient and are monitoring them for symptoms of infection,” the county said. “In addition, CDC is working with the airline and state and local health officials to contact airline passengers and others who may have been in contact with the patient on board a flight from Mexico to Dallas.”
The patient is isolated and recovering at home.
“We have been working closely with the CDC and the Texas Department of State Health Services and have conducted interviews with the patient and close contacts,” said Huang. “We have determined that there is little known risk to the general public at this time. However, monkeypox cases have been spreading globally, and we are actively working with local healthcare providers to ensure they are prepared to recognize monkeypox and report suspected cases to public health officials.”
The monkeypox virus is spread primarily through direct contact with infectious sores, scabs, or bodily fluids, the CDC said. It can also be spread by respiratory secretions during prolonged face-to-face contact, and can also be spread during intimate contact.
While most who contract it recuperate comfortably at home, some may experience fever, rash, and swollen lymph nodes, and some serious complications have also been reported.
Bethany Erickson is the senior digital editor for D Magazine. She’s written about real estate, education policy, the stock market, and crime throughout her career, and sometimes all at the same time. She hates lima beans and 5 a.m. and takes SAT practice tests for fun.