Rare Monkeypox Infection in Dallas ‘Not a Reason for Alarm,' Health Officials Say

Traveler believed to have been infected with monkeypox on a trip to Nigeria; no other infections are confirmed in North Texas


What to Know

  • Monkeypox infection was confirmed in a traveler who visited Africa before returning to Dallas.
  • The risk to travelers is low due to masking requirements on airplanes, in airports. Health officials tracing local contacts to assess risk.
  • No other confirmed or suspected infections were announced by local health officials Friday.

Dallas County Health and Human Services says the confirmation of monkeypox infection in the city is "rare," but "not a reason for alarm."

DCHHS confirmed the infection in a person who traveled from Nigeria to Dallas and arrived at Love Field on July 9. Local health officials said Friday the person is currently isolated at a Dallas hospital to prevent the spread of the virus and is said to be in stable condition.

“We have been working closely with the CDC and DSHS and have conducted interviews with the patient and close contacts that were exposed,” said DCHHS Director Dr. Philip Huang. “We have determined that there is very little risk to the general public. This is another demonstration of the importance of maintaining a strong public health infrastructure, as we are only a plane ride away from any global infectious disease.”

DCHHS did not release any further information about the patient, their health, their location or the flights they were on that ended with their arrival in Dallas. They also did not announce any other confirmed or suspected cases of monkeypox in North Texas.

DCHHS said it’s believed the risk of spread of monkeypox via respiratory droplets to others on the planes and in the airports is low because travelers on the flights were required to wear masks not only onboard the aircraft but in airports due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is working with the airline and state and local health officials to contact airline passengers and others who may have been in contact with the patient during the flights and is assessing their risk.

Further, DCHHS worked with the CDC and the Texas Department of State Health Services to identify and contact individuals who were in direct contact with the patient since they left the airport and entered the general public where masks are no longer required.

“While rare, this case is not a reason for alarm and we do not expect any threat to the general public. Dallas County Health and Human Services is working closely with local providers, as well as our state and federal partners,” said Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins.

What is Monkeypox

According to the CDC, in humans, the symptoms of monkeypox are similar to but milder than the symptoms of smallpox. People who do not have symptoms are not capable of spreading monkeypox to others, DCHHS said.

Monkeypox begins with fever, headache, muscle aches, and exhaustion. The main difference between symptoms of smallpox and monkeypox is that monkeypox causes lymph nodes to swell (lymphadenopathy) while smallpox does not. The incubation period (time from infection to symptoms) for monkeypox is usually 7−14 days but can range from 5−21 days.

The illness begins with:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Backache
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Chills
  • Exhaustion

Within 1 to 3 days (sometimes longer) after the appearance of fever, the patient develops a rash, often beginning on the face then spreading to other parts of the body.

Lesions progress through the following stages before falling off:

  • Macules
  • Papules
  • Vesicles
  • Pustules
  • Scabs

The illness typically lasts for 2−4 weeks. In Africa, monkeypox has been shown to cause death in as many as 1 in 10 persons who contract the disease.

Monkeypox History

The case is the first known case of monkeypox in a Dallas resident. The first human case of monkeypox was recorded in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In 2003, the U.S. experienced an outbreak of monkeypox with 47 reported human cases. This is believed to be the first monkeypox virus infection in a Texas resident.

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