Experts concerned about monkeypox as college students return to campuses

Published: Aug. 12, 2022 at 12:19 PM CDT

(KARE) - Some are worried the spread of monkeypox could get worse when students return to college this fall.

With more than 9,000 cases nationwide, concerns linger ahead of the new school year.

“The fact that it’s spreading this much and this quickly is a bit of a surprise,” said Joseph Kurland, a vaccine specialist and infection preventionist at Children’s Minnesota.

He said in a typical monkeypox case, it could take up to four weeks for lesions to heal.

“For most individuals, I think that’s going to be pretty hard when it comes to your time off, schedules,” Kurland said.

That’s especially true in school or college settings.

“We may be at risk of seeing additional outbreaks and cases,” he said.

Cornell University in New York and Northwestern University in Illinois have already put out guidance for monitoring campus monkeypox cases online.

In Minnesota, others are following suit.

In a statement, the University of Minnesota confirmed they’re responding to potential cases by educating on-campus clinicians to spot the signs and symptoms, and assembling testing kits for use by clinicians.

“McAllister’s health and wellness center and our infectious disease task force continue to monitor emerging data and guidelines related to monkeypox and will message and respond accordingly,” said Jen Jacobson, the co-chair of McAllister College’s infectious disease task force.

“But when you’re in the dorm situations, the other factor that becomes a concern is infectious materials on bedding and linens, and it could be difficult to trace back where you became sick because not everybody might be thinking about, ‘Oh, I sat on so and so’s bed,’” Kurland said.

He said it’s important to stay informed about potential risk “and then also being aware of kind of how others around you are acting or feeling and not putting yourself in a situation that might result in you getting sick from others.”

The American College Health Association is working in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to identify the needs of college and university campuses.

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