Austin Public Health, Central Health and other local health leaders will host a virtual roundtable Friday to discuss monkeypox and the looming fall festival season.
As of Thursday, there are nine confirmed and 46 presumptive cases of monkeypox in Austin-Travis County. There are 559 confirmed monkeypox cases in Texas, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. WHO
The uptick in cases comes as Austin heads into a busy festival season, with large events like Pride and Austin City Limits Music Festival on the horizon.
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Dr. Desmar Walkes, the Austin-Travis County health authority, said they’ve recommended hand washing stations and sanitization at all fall festival events this year, including at University of Texas Football events. She also said they would encourage participants to avoid skin-to-skin contact and intimate contact with strangers, along with mask-wearing when social distancing is not possible and staying home when sick.
Many of the practices that will help prevent monkeypox are things people have been encouraged to do for more than two years to stop the spread of COVID-19, which is also on APH’s mind as Austin nears the fall festival season.
“We’re starting to get that message out on our website,” Walkes said of both monkeypox and COVID-19 ahead of big events. “Our event organizers are prepared to put fliers up and do those things that they need to do to remind people of mitigation strategies, including letting their participants know ahead of time.”
Vaccine for monkeypox is limited right now, Walkes said. Only people who have had a sexual partner in the past 14 days who has monkeypox or those who have had multiple sexual partners over the past 14 days in an area where monkeypox is known to be spreading are eligible. APH has to request vaccines from the state.
“While we await more vaccines from the state, staying informed and practicing prevention methods are the best ways to protect yourself from monkeypox,” said Austin Public Health Director Adrienne Sturrup. “Follow the lessons we’ve learned from COVID-19 to enjoy these upcoming festivities safely.”