With six confirmed cases and seven presumptive cases in Travis County, monkeypox is now considered community spread by Austin Public Health as of June 13. APH considers a virus community spread when it no longer can be traced from a single person or population.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, monkeypox is rare; it does not spread easily without close contact; and over 99% of people who get the disease are likely to survive.

Monkeypox is spread through direct contact with infected scabs, rashes and bodily fluids, or through prolonged respiratory secretions, such as kissing. It can also be spread by touching items that have been in contact with scabs, rashes and bodily fluids.

In addition to avoiding close contact with strangers and practicing good hand washing, APH warns about sharing vapes, cigarettes or any activity that exchanges saliva with strangers.

While rashes and blisters are most commonly associated with monkeypox, other symptoms include fever, headache, body aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills and fatigue.

“We need to be safe and follow practices we’ve learned from COVID-19 to prevent the spread of monkeypox here in our community,” said Dr. Desmar Walkes, Austin-Travis County Health Authority, in a press release. “Try to reduce close, intimate interactions with those whose health history you’re unaware of. Use hand sanitizer, and wear masks when in close quarters with others who have symptoms.”

In a press release, APH reminded residents that monkeypox can be spread to anyone regardless of sexual orientation or travel history.

“Stigma and blame undermine trust and capacity to respond effectively during outbreaks like this one,” APH Director Adrienne Sturrup said in a press release. “We know from experience that stigmatizing rhetoric can disable an evidence-based response with fear, driving people away from health services and impeding case investigations.”

APH will update cases online every Thursday.