Dallas clinics still seeing some mpox cases months after height of outbreak
The spread of mpox in Dallas has slowed significantly since the virus was discovered in June of last year, according to data from Dallas County Health and Human Services.
But while there aren’t 25 cases a week like last summer, clinicians still say the virus is present in the county.
There have been more than 850 cases of mpox in Dallas County since June 2022, when testing and vaccine availability for mpox across the United States was limited as cases continued to spread throughout the summer.
When CEO of Prism Health North Texas John Carlo reflects on last summer, he says the early days were frightening for patients and providers.
“Our health departments around the country became immediately overwhelmed [with] people trying to call into call centers that just simply did not have the capacity to meet that demand,” he said. “So, it was quite overwhelming, especially in those first few weeks.”
Carlo said wider access to vaccines, and improved public messaging around risk and transmission, helped slow the virus by the fall. Vaccines available at both Abounding Prosperity and Prism Health North Texas for people who are at risk or who have come into contact with someone who may have mpox.
“Now, it’s not gone away,” he said. “I do think it’s important to say we still have a risk, we still see cases. We’ll be in the summertime soon, and there’s nothing to say we couldn’t see a rebound.”
The virus is characterized by a rash and raised bumps, plus flu-like symptoms like fever, chills, and muscle aches. It can take anywhere from three to 17 days for symptoms to appear, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and is spread by skin-to-skin contact, including sexual contact, with someone who is symptomatic.
High-risk people include cis and trans men who have sex with men, who have also had multiple sexual partners in the past 14 days.
Texas has the third-highest case count of mpox in the country, with close to 3,000 cases, according to the CDC.
In Dallas County, people initially had to call a Dallas County Health and Human Services hotline to confirm their eligibility and schedule a vaccine appointment. The department then distributed vaccines to other health centers, like Prism Health North Texas and Abounding Prosperity, in August.
Robert Baxter, the associate director of programming at Abounding Prosperity, said the organization has distributed more than 1,100 vaccines to Dallas County residents since that time. The clinic extended hours – with workers taking on 12-hour shifts – and helped share information on the vaccine with the community, Baxter said.
“We did what we needed to do in order to get as many people vaccinated as rapidly as possible,” he said.
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