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Why the new health district was not first to inform the public about monkeypox

At this time, it is unclear where the patient got the virus.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Health officials are trying to determine the technicalities behind Nueces County's first probable case of monkeypox.

3NEWS learned late Thursday evening from representatives of CHRISTUS Spohn that one patient had been treated for monkeypox and released. The Corpus Christi-Nueces County Health District said that patient was a male in his 20s, and that the case is considered "probable" until the sample is tested by the Centers for Disease Control, the only agency that can run the test to confirm if the patient had monkeypox.

Dr. Dante Gonzalez, Assistant Health Director for the City-County Public Health District, said that because the CDC is swamped with samples from across the country it could be a while before the results come in. He said the organization may never get to ours.

However, a big question on Friday morning was why the public hadn't notified of the case.

"We received notifications directly from the State. So, the State puts it into a system called NEDS. That means the National Electronic Disease Surveillance System," Gonzalez said. "And in that system, we pull down the information and the reports there from the lab and then we analyze those results. So when we looked at the results we looked at, there was a positive for Orthopox. Not a positive for monkeypox."

Orthopoxvirus is a group of viruses that include other kinds of pox, such as chickenpox. Gonzalez said the CDC will have to determine just what kind of pox the patient had.

"Whenever we get anything like this, even as a probable case or even if it's a suspected case, we would put something out, in which we definitely will," Gonzalez said. "We definitely are. I think that's a better word for it. We definitely are, it's just a matter of getting it right."

The City-County Public Health District did put out a news release about the case on Friday after 3NEWS spoke with Gonzalez.

At this time, it is unclear where the patient got the virus. Gonzalez said the patient did not report any recent travel.

The City-County Health Department issued another news release this evening that said: 

Christus Spohn Hospital followed all the appropriate orthopoxviral testing protocols mandated by the Department of State Health Services in reporting a probable case of Monkeypox in Nueces County.

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