Doctors talk potential risk of spread of Monkeypox on college campuses

Published: Aug. 17, 2022 at 2:05 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - As colleges and universities in the Valley welcome back students for the fall semester, doctors are reminding those both on and off campus to be mindful of the potential spread of Monkeypox.

“There’s of course a lot of interaction and that interaction, of course, is going to involve speaking closely and a lot of touches,” Family Medicine Physician Dr. Trent Mazer with Sentara Timber Way Health Center said.

Although there are currently only around 190 confirmed cases of Monkeypox in the Commonwealth, medical professionals on the state and local level said there is a risk of spread as college students return to campus where students are in close quarters.

“Monkeypox spreads through both respiratory droplets when there are people that are close enough together for long periods of time, along with any sexual type of contact as well as just physical contact of any type if there are exposed lesions,” Dr. Mazer said.

Dr. Mazer said exposure and fever-type symptoms can occur almost two weeks before any rash develops, and both he and other doctors said that with any illness going back to basics can help students stay prepared.

“Making sure that you have as clean as an area in your dormitory as possible, as well as just keeping up with washing your hands,” Dr. Mazer said.

“If you are aware that someone you’re living with has Monkeypox or you notice that they have an unusual rash, understanding the signs and symptoms of Monkeypox is the first step to preventing it,” Deputy Director of VDH Office of Epidemiology Dr. Laurie Forlano said.

A spokesperson for Bridgewater College said their Student Health Center will help arrange testing for Monkeypox and treatment for students should they need it. Eastern Mennonite University has a similar approach, and a spokesperson for the school says Health Services will continue to monitor developments.

James Madison University has specific information on their University Health Center site, that provides information on testing coordination as well as treatment. Some JMU staff are also undergoing additional training on Monkeypox specifically.

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