Austin officials issue emergency order as local monkeypox cases rise
KVUE — Local authorities, including Austin Mayor Steve Adler and Travis County Judge Andy Brown, gathered Tuesday, August 9 to declare a joint emergency order regarding rising cases of monkeypox in the Austin area.
Adler and Brown were joined by Austin-Travis County Health Authority Dr. Desmar Walkes at City Hall, where they discussed their request for more resources to address the virus and efforts to increase awareness and public education.
"With limited supplies of vaccine resources, we're calling on our state and our federal partners to help us get more vaccines in Austin and Travis County," said Brown. "We need the federal government to increase the amount of vaccine available, and we need the Texas state government to speed up the process when we request more vaccine locally."
Austin Public Health and other local clinics are ready to distribute more vaccines. Brown added that local infrastructure is already prepared once supply increases.
Tuesday's news comes after the federal government just last week declared a public health emergency over the monkeypox outbreak, which has now infected thousands of Americans. Last week's announcement also aimed to free up money and other resources to fight the virus, which is known to cause fever, body aches, chills, fatigue and pimple-like bumps on many parts of the human body.
Travis County has reported 68 potential cases of monkeypox — nine confirmed and 59 presumptive. Local cases are updated weekly online on Thursdays.
"We started with our first case on June 23," said Dr. Walkes. "This particular virus is spread by close, direct skin-to-skin contact with someone who has the rash or has symptoms of the fever, chills, etc. And when somebody develops symptoms, they are infectious. They are not recovered until all of the skin's clear of scabs and there's a fresh layer of skin."
The infection can spread by the touching of the skin containing the scabs or lesions and their related fluids, as well as via respiratory secretions, so Walkes said masking is important.
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