McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — The first two cases of monkeypox have been reported in South Texas in the border city of Laredo, and in Cameron County on the Gulf Coast.
And Hidalgo County, also on the South Texas border, said Wednesday they have begun giving preventive monkeypox vaccines to those at high-risk only due to limited supplies.
Cameron County health officials said Tuesday that the patient has mild symptoms and was isolating after presenting for tests on Aug. 11 at a local clinic.
“The individual developed lesions and mild symptoms prior to testing. The individual is currently under home isolation and is being monitored by Cameron County Public Health,” Cameron County Health Administrator Esmeralda Guajardo wrote in a letter.
The first case of monkeypox was reported Monday in Laredo. The male patient is in his 20s and in isolation, according to the Laredo Health Department.
A case had been reported in June in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, across the Rio Grande in the northern Mexican state of Tamaulipas.
“Even though the disease is not easily transmitted, we encourage individuals to be aware of symptoms, continue to follow preventive measures and consult with a health care provider if needed,” Laredo Health Director Richard Chamberlain said in a statement.
Symptoms can include a rash, tiredness, headache, fever and swollen lymph nodes.
Health officials warn avoiding close contact with those who are infected or sharing utensils, towels or other objects, which could spread the virus, according to a video produced by Cameron County health officials.
Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) says the incubation period — the length of time between infection to showing symptoms — is usually 7-14 days, but can range from 5-21 days. The rash typically begins within five days of the first symptoms.
The illness typically lasts for 2-4 weeks, according to DSHS.
Hidalgo County health officials tweeted Wednesday there are no confirmed cases of monkeypox in the county but have begun vaccinating “high-risk clients” with the vaccine “as a preventive effort.”
Hidalgo County officials say they have 500 vials of the vaccine from DSHS, which would provide 2,500 doses. Two doses per patient are recommended to provide immunity, according to health officials.
That would allow just 1,200 patients to get vaccinated, at least for now, Eduardo Olivarez, chief administrative officer for Hidalgo County Health and Human Services said.
“Unfortunately, because of the limited supply of the vaccine nationwide, Hidalgo County and our neighbors received a relatively small number of dosages,” Olivarez said in a statement. “The state has already alerted us that new vials of vaccine may not arrive until the end of November so health officials agreed to target those most at-risk with this initial supply of vaccines.”