A: No, monkeypox is not going to become the next COVID-19, according to David Gonzales, Victoria County Public Health Department director.
Since May, the U.S. has experienced an outbreak of monkeypox cases, and the disease has extended globally to the point that Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the World Health Organization’s director-general, declared it a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern” on July 23.
Recently, monkeypox has made its way to nearby San Antonio, but since then, monkeypox cases have dramatically increased. At that time, the U.S. had 1,469 cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with Texas accounting for 43 cases. As of Friday, the CDC had confirmed 5,189 cases with Texas accounting for 351 cases.
However, despite this trend and the Biden administration considering declaring a public health emergency over the monkeypox outbreak, the disease isn’t the next COVID-19, Gonzales said.
This is because monkeypox isn’t as contagious or fatal as COVID-19, and unlike at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are already defenses, such as vaccines and public health protocols against monkeypox, he said.
There is still a concern because monkeypox has started showing different symptoms, Gonzales said. However, unlike COVID-19, monkeypox is not spreading nearly as quickly as COVID-19.
“Every day, we’re learning something new about it. There are changes on the new cases about it, and luckily we haven’t had any yet in the county,” he said.
For the most part, monkeypox has spread through direct body contact from bodily fluids and lesions, Gonzales said.
“You’re not going to be walking in H-E-B and suddenly catch monkeypox,” he said. “It’s just not easily transmissible.”
Most monkeypox cases have spread through men having sex with men, but there have been cases that have been spread with heterosexual couples. Cases that were spread without sexually activity, just prolonged respiratory exposure in the same household, Gonzales said. It can also be spread by coming into contact with linens of those with the disease.
Monkeypox infection is possible regardless of someone’s sexual orientation, he said.
“I don’t think we’re going to see the widespread transmission that we saw with COVID, the exponentially fast infection rates with COVID, with monkeypox,” Gonzales said.
If someone is concerned they might have monkeypox, they should check with their primary care physician, he said.
Kyle Cotton was born and raised in San Antonio and graduated from San Antonio College and the University of Texas at Arlington. Cotton has covered economic development, health care, finance, government, technology, oil and gas and higher education.