Aug 26, 2022 - News

Monkeypox case confirmed in Harris County Jail

The Harris County Jail, a tall red-brick building with dark windows, sits on the banks of the Buffalo Bayou
The Harris County Jail sits on the banks of the Buffalo Bayou. Photo: Jay R. Jordan/Axios

A Harris County inmate has tested positive for monkeypox, the first case reported in the county lockup since the virus emerged in the U.S. this summer.

Driving the news: Sheriff Ed Gonzalez tweeted that the man was booked in jail Aug. 15 without any symptoms but developed them a week later.

  • The person was already quarantined as part of the jail's standard COVID protocols when he tested positive for monkeypox.
  • The sheriff's office is performing contact tracing and will notify anyone who may have come in contact with him.
  • Inmates and staff who were in contact with the man will be offered vaccines, Gonzalez said.

Why it matters: People in jail are within close proximity to each other, so viruses can spread quickly, the Prison Policy Initiative reports.

By the numbers: There are 476 confirmed monkeypox cases across Harris County, according to Harris County Public Health.

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report 1,374 active cases across Texas and 16,603 confirmed cases nationwide.

Of note: Houston and Harris County this week expanded the eligibility of monkeypox vaccines to men who have sex with men, Houston Public Media reports.

  • 2,290 people have been inoculated in Harris County since vaccines became available in late July.
  • For information on how to be vaccinated, call the monkeypox hotline at 832-927-0707.
  • Anyone can become infected with the virus through close or intimate contact, according to the CDC.
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