Monkeypox has been declared at the level of community spread in Travis County according to Austin Public Health (APH). Community spread means that people have been infected with the virus without traveling to a high-risk area or being in contact with someone who has traveled to a high-risk area, said Manish Naik, MD, ARC Chief Medical Officer, Chief Medical Information Officer, Internal Medicine Associate Chief, in this interview with the Austin American-Statesman.
Community spread with monkeypox "is not a reason to panic or raise a huge level of concern," Dr. Naik added. "It doesn't mean that it's starting to spread in an airborne fashion."
In this article, Dr. Naik and other experts address monkeypox questions, such as:
- Who can get monkeypox?
- How is monkeypox spread?
- What are monkeypox's symptoms?
- How can we avoid catching monkeypox?
- Are monkeypox symptoms severe?
What should I do if I might be infected?
As of Wednesday, July 13, APH confirmed six monkeypox cases and identified seven presumptive cases, which means the person has tested positive, but the case hasn't yet been confirmed by the CDC. APH is requiring anyone who tests positive for monkeypox to stay home for 21 days to reduce the risk of contact and spread.
Is this virus another COVID-19?
Monkeypox also won't rise to the level of another pandemic, Dr. Naik has said. Monkeypox is not spread through the air though respiratory droplets like COVID-19. It is also not as infectious. "This virus is much more difficult to contract than a typical cold virus or COVID-19," Dr. Naik added.
Dr. Naik is much more concerned about COVID-19, than the monkeypox virus. Recently, 30% to 35% of the COVID-19 tests at run ARC have come back as positive, he said. People who suspect they have COVID-19 should get tested because there are medications they can take to lessen their symptoms and prevent a severe infection or hospitalization.
Make an appointment
Anyone with a rash that looks like monkeypox should talk to their health care provider, even if they don’t think they had contact with someone who has monkeypox. The rash is key, Dr. Naik said. If you are experiencing a rash, make an appointment immediately. To make an appointment at ARC, call the clinic nearest you or make an appointment online.