Health Officials Address Monkeypox Fears as Children Return to School

California public health officials are trying to allay fears about monkeypox in schools and daycare centers as students prepare to return from summer break. 

Dr. Sohil Sud with the California Department of Public Health, and Brooks Allen, the executive director of the state board of education, attended a briefing in San Diego this week to discuss how the state is preparing to manage the threats of monkeypox and COVID-19 this fall.

“Schools and childcare centers appear to be very safe places to be,” said Dr. Sud

“The [monkeypox] risk to the general population remains very low, and that includes children in schools,” he added.

Just three of the 1,310 monkeypox cases in California have occurred in children under the age of 18. The youngest monkeypox patient in San Diego County is 21.

Although monkeypox is not a sexually transmitted disease, it is most commonly trasnmitted throug direct and sustained physical contact. For this reason, it is much more likely to be transmitted among intimate partners. Currently, the largest outbreaks are in the LGBTQ community, particularly among men. Dr. Sud said this is where the focus and resources should remain.

Nevertheless, school districts are announcing precautionary measures to mitigate the risk of a monkeypox outbreak. Schools are encouraging students to check their bodies for lesions before using gym equipment or engaging in contact sports. 

Colleges are likely at higher risk than K-12 schools due to intimacy and shared dorms. It’s “important that colleges and universities are prepared to provide public health education/information about monkeypox to students, have testing/medical resources available to if students develop symptoms, and have an isolation protocol ready," Dr. Katrine Wallace, an epidemiologist at the University of Illinois–Chicago, told Salon

There is a vaccination for monkeypox, but the national supply is low. The federal government recently approved new vaccination administration guidelines that will allow providers to use a smaller dose to help supplies last. 


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K-12

Tuesday, September 27, 2022 - 02:40

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