HOUSTON (KXAN) — A child under the age of two is believed to be the first pediatric case of monkeypox in Texas, according to the Harris County judge.
In a news conference Tuesday morning, Judge Lina Hidalgo shared that Harris County learned a young child is now presumed positive for the virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention must now confirm if the infant indeed has monkeypox, which Hidalgo expects to take about a week to have the testing results back.
“The child is currently expected to have a full recovery and is doing very well,” Hidalgo said. “This child is under two years old. We are in contact and have been in contact with the family, who are fully cooperative. The family has helped us initiate contact tracing with the folks that this child has been in contact with. We are still in the early stages of contact tracing.”
She said the county has not yet identified how the child contracted monkeypox. She mentioned the child has not been in any school or daycare settings and only has a “residual rash” as a noticeable symptom. The county is also offering the vaccine to all those who had direct contact with the child.
Hidalgo said she understands how this could raise concerns for parents, especially as they prepare to send their children back to school.
“Anyone can get this virus, so this isn’t entirely unexpected,” Hidalgo told reporters.
Health experts said monkeypox symptoms include the following:
- Muscle aches and backache
- Swollen lymph nodes
- A rash that can look like pimples or blisters
Hidlago asked parents to monitor their children to see if they develop any unusual rashes or sores. If they notice anything out of the ordinary, she advised families to reach out to their doctor for more information and request a monkeypox test that way.
Monkeypox is spread most commonly through prolonged person-to-person contact. It mostly happens through direct contact with bodily fluids or with the scabs and wounds created by monkeypox, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. The virus can also be spread through prolonged exposure to someone with the virus or with materials that have made contact with an infected person.
Hidalgo said there are now 269 cases in Harris County, and only one child is affected. Statewide, the CDC reported 992 confirmed cases in Texas, while the federal agency is also tracking almost 12,000 cases nationally.
Travis County Commissioners voted Tuesday to extend the local state of monkeypox disaster declaration approved by the county and City of Austin last week. Data reported by Austin Public Health found there are nine confirmed cases and 88 presumptive cases of monkeypox within Travis County, as of Tuesday morning. County presumptive cases had increased by nine since Monday evening, officials said.
The availability of the monkeypox vaccine remains incredibly limited locally and across the state. Health experts said vaccination would help protect people from getting sick if the shot’s given before or soon after their exposure to the virus.
Hidalgo said Tuesday she is “very disappointed in the continued shortage of vaccines we’re seeing here in Harris County.”
Meanwhile, in Travis County, Austin Public Health has placed a request for approximately 5,000 additional vaccine doses, but has yet to receive them.