Schools and colleges brace for monkeypox outbreaks as fall approaches

Elementary schools and universities are preparing for possible outbreaks of monkeypox as the summer ends and fall semesters approach.

Although monkeypox has spread almost exclusively among men who have sex with men (14,000 confirmed cases in the United States), health officials are concerned that the virus could spread beyond the LGBTQ community and in the general population, with elementary and college students being the most vulnerable. Speak Hill:

Since epidemiologists and public health officials observe and learn in real time, if transmission can occur from more casual physical contact, then the virus is ripe to spread through the general population. The most vulnerable subpopulations are the youngest members of society: toddlers, school children, and young adults in college. Young children and immunocompromised people remain most at risk of adverse outcomes.

Young children have a natural propensity to play and touch each other. If one of these children is infected with monkeypox, it can cause a local epidemic with the other children and their teachers. Many of these children engage in physical contact such as play wrestling. Such activities are innate. Trying to limit or prevent these physical contacts is not only futile, but it could harm their development.

Given the limited supply and special focus on the LGBTQ community, vaccinating these populations against monkeypox would be nearly impossible at this point, leading various school districts and colleges to come up with their own plan. . Just last week, Penn State released its own guidelines on monkeypox, in which it stressed that “everyone is at risk for monkeypox.”

People line up to receive the monkeypox vaccine before the opening of a new mass vaccination site at the Bushwick Education Campus in Brooklyn on July 17, 2022, in New York City. (Photo by KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images)

“Everyone is at risk for monkeypox,” the Penn State guidelines state. “We strongly encourage students to learn about monkeypox and take steps to protect themselves. Monkeypox is a viral infection that is mainly spread by prolonged close contact. It is not a sexually transmitted infection (STI) and anyone can be at risk, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. The most common symptoms of monkeypox are fever, rash, and swollen lymph nodes.

The University of Delaware and Drexel University have published their own guidelines.

LGBTQ student leaders were especially concerned that preparing for monkeypox would increase stigma and encouraged schools to “tackle the virus head-on, the same way they responded to COVID, while acknowledging that viruses are very different” in order to reduce stigma, according to the Philadelphia plaintiff.

“I think a lot of the concern is less about the virus itself and more about the homophobic moral panic that’s starting,” said Eitan Runyan, president of Temple University Queer Student Union.

Muggs Leone, a student employee of Penn State’s Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity, echoed Runyan’s fears. “When it comes to physical security, I haven’t heard much about it,” he said.


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