University warns students about monkeypox risk

placeholder when loading article action

This summer, George Washington, Georgetown and U.S. universities have seen a spate of harrowing cases of the virus. Now, those schools in the nation’s capital and others across the country are warning their communities to be wary of the potential spread of monkeypox as students return to school in the coming weeks.

The public health campaign centered on monkeypox comes as colleges and universities are managing their third back-to-school season affected by the coronavirus pandemic. After the first two years of hiatus, students and educators are eager to get back to normal.

This could complicate efforts to deal with a threat very different from covid-19. Health authorities say monkeypox is spread through close contact, usually skin-to-skin, including but not limited to sexual contact. Authorities also warned of possible transmission through respiratory secretions or contact with bedding or towels used by an infected person.

World ignores monkeypox threat, including signs of sexual transmission

All of this sounds like what might happen in a college dorm, dance floor, or other campus space.

“Right now we have to deal with two public health emergencies at the same time,” said Ranit Mishori, Georgetown University’s vice president and chief public health officer. “It’s been very difficult for staff, students and staff.”

Mishori said Georgetown officials were aware of two recent cases in their community. GWU and AU officials also have confirmed cases. Cases have also been reported at the University of Texas at Austin, as well as West Chester and Bucknell Universities in Pennsylvania, news site Inside Higher Ed reported this month.

Emory University President Gregory L. Fenves said the Atlanta campus is preparing for new health threats, noting that the coronavirus pandemic is not going away. “People are tired of the coronavirus,” he said. “This public health fatigue problem is real.”

One of the most sensitive questions facing universities is how to communicate an outbreak that has so far spread in the U.S. primarily among men who have sex with other men. “We don’t want to stigmatize sexuality,” said Lynn R. Goldman, dean of the GWU School of Public Health. She pointed out that monkeypox is not a sexually transmitted disease, and condoms are not a preventive measure.

“Anyone can become infected with monkeypox, so campuses should promote it as a public health concern for all; however, campus communications can be tailored to different audiences to best Effective results. Communication is important to convey empathy, reduce stigma and address equity concerns, regardless of audience.”

Mishori said schools should brief athletes, coaches, guardians and others about the virus. “We recognize that anyone and everyone is at risk, regardless of gender or sexual orientation,” she said.

In recent days, the university has warned the community about how the virus spreads, the signs of infection (a painful rash that looks like pimples or blisters, followed by a crust) and the level of threat it poses.

“Currently, the risk of monkeypox transmission on campus is very low, and if proper safety precautions are taken, there is no need to increase concern,” David S. Reitman, medical director of the AU Student Health Center, said in an Aug. 8 message. wrote to the community. “Monkeypox is less contagious and less likely to cause severe illness or death than COVID-19.” Reitman wrote that the likelihood of infection in classroom settings and normal daily activities is low.

University of Maryland Chief Medical Officer Spyridon S. Marinopoulos on Aug. 9 urged people on campus to take “everyday precautions” to protect themselves, such as washing their hands regularly and avoiding “close skin-to-skin contact with people who have come into contact with the infection.” The rash looks like monkeypox. “

Mass vaccination is one solution many universities have adopted to prevent the coronavirus, but monkeypox-related problems have not been considered. Availability of monkeypox vaccine is limited, and health authorities are prioritizing high-risk groups.

What you need to know about the monkeypox vaccine

DC expands eligibility for monkeypox vaccine in response to falling demand

The campus health center will be vigilant about what the monkeypox rash looks like and schedule testing for the virus if students need it, officials said. The turnaround time for results could be as long as five days, Mishori said, and students with suspected cases will be asked to isolate until it is known if they are infected.

Those with confirmed infection will require further isolation, which could take two weeks or more, Mishori said. Depending on the configuration of dorm beds and rooms, that could mean infected students temporarily moving into hotel rooms on the Georgetown campus.

Universities around the world are playing these unpopular scenarios as the fall semester approaches.

“In terms of future thinking, we’re all on deck right now — what if we’re going to do it?” said GWU’s Goldman Sachs. “If, if, if, if?”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.