Monkeypox case confirmed in UT-Austin community

Leila Saidane, News Reporter

A monkeypox case was confirmed in the UT community last week, a University Health Services spokesperson said Sunday. 

Nine cases have been reported in Travis County as of Thursday. UHS associate director Susan Hochman said UHS is only aware of the one case within the University community. 

“We expect that our campus community will mirror the surrounding Austin community with regard to the incidence of this virus, as we have seen with other communicable diseases,” Hochman said in an email. The risk “to the greater campus community remains low, and the virus does not spread easily without close contact,” said Hochman. 

Monkeypox is a rare virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports, and is spread through intimate physical contact, exposure to the infectious rash or saliva. 

Illness typically lasts two to four weeks, Austin Public Health reports, and it produces rashes on the face, mouth, hands and feet, chest or genitals. Other symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion. 

The virus can be spread regardless of travel history or sexual orientation, according to Austin Public Health. People who do not have symptoms cannot spread the virus to others. 

“We need to be safe and follow practices we’ve learned from COVID-19 to prevent the spread of monkeypox here in our community,” said Desmar Walkes, Austin-Travis County Health Authority in a press release. “Try to reduce close, intimate interactions with those whose health history you’re unaware of. Use hand sanitizer, and wear masks when in close quarters with others who have symptoms.”

Individuals experiencing symptoms should seek immediate medical care, even if they have had no known contact with the virus, and should avoid physical intimacy until cleared by a medical professional. Students can call the UHS nurse advice line at 512-475-6877 or make an appointment at UHS at 512-471-4955.