While much less common than COVID-19, the University says it is working on a protocol for Monkeypox in an effort to keep students safe.
By Natalie Wertz
The University of Findlay Emergency Operations Team is back at work looking over a suggested Monkeypox virus protocol drafted by the Cosiano Health Center at the University of Findlay and Tara Smith, R.N., Director of Health Services.
As of Aug. 25, the Ohio Department of Health’s new Monkeypox dashboard states Ohio has 147 cases of Monkeypox out of the 16,926 cases nationwide reported by the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Cases have been reported in 19 counties in Ohio but Hancock is not one of those listed.
After more than two years of the COVID-19 public health emergency some college students may wonder just how contagious Monkeypox is and if it will have the same effect on everyday living habits.
Smith explains the University will release information next week regarding prevention and information. But notes Monkeypox is not nearly as common as COVID-19.
“Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by the Monkeypox virus,” Smith said. “It is hopefully going to be more manageable than [COVID-19].
Monkeypox transmits differently than COVID-19 according to health officials. The Ohio Department of Health says Monkeypox can spread from person to person through close contact such as direct contact with a rash, sores, scabs and after prolonged, face-to-face contact.
ODH says people who do not have Monkeypox symptoms cannot spread the virus to others which is much different than COVID-19, where someone who is asymptomatic can be contagious.
“Because with COVID we feel healthy,” Smith said. “We’re out and about doing our normal activity. And two days later, we get symptoms and test positive. Well, we’ve already been out and about with people. That’s why it’s hard to manage, where Monkeypox is more manageable. You see the rash, stay away and isolate.”
ODH says Monkeypox can spread through indirect contact with personal items that previously came into contact with the infectious rash, sores, scabs, or bodily fluids from a person with Monkeypox (for example: clothing, bedding, or towels).
But again, Smith says that’s if bodily fluids are involved.
“I don’t think it’s as contagious as people think [transmitting it from surfaces],” Smith said. “From my understanding, the fluid from the blisters would have to get on the [surface] for [people] to then touch it.”
Monkeypox can spread during intimate contact between people, including during sex, as well as activities like kissing and cuddling. Which leads to some misconceptions about the Monkeypox virus. One misconception stems from rumors that it is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that effects the LGBTQ+ community.
“They’re not calling it an STI,” Smith said. “They’re just saying you can transmit it sexually though. So it’s not classified as an STI.”
The CDC notes “At this time, data suggest that gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men make up the majority of cases in the current Monkeypox outbreak. However, anyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, who has been in close, personal contact with someone who has Monkeypox is at risk.”
That means it is not exclusive to the gay community.
“It can spread to anybody,” Smith said. “Children have contracted it.”
Another question is if Monkeypox can easily transmit from surfaces. This is a main concern for students living in dormitories sharing restrooms and common areas, as well as students who attend class in a classroom.
“They do say that it’s possible that it could be on objects or bedding or something. And if you’ve touched that, it, it could be spread that way,” Smith said. “So, anybody that has Monkeypox needs to isolate just like COVID.”
Smith says Monkeypox isolation can be anywhere from two to four until the blisters heal otherwise the wounds could be contagious.
Smith says the Hancock Public Health Department sent information from the CDC and it does not recommend the Monkeypox vaccine for the general public.
“It’s available for people who have been exposed to monkey pox or high risk for exposure,” Smith said. “And Ohio has a very small supply of that vaccine.”
The Monkeypox vaccine has yet to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and, in Ohio, there is a limited supply of this vaccine. However, Smith said, most [people] will recover on their own from having Monkeypox, and that medicine usually is not needed.
The CDC says there are no treatments specifically for Monkeypox virus infections. “However, Monkeypox and smallpox viruses are genetically similar, which means that antiviral drugs and vaccines developed to protect against smallpox may be used to prevent and treat Monkeypox virus infections,” according to the CDC.
If you suspect that you may have transmitted or been in contact with Monkeypox, be assessed by a health professional. Cosiano is available to each and every student but if they are closed, see urgent care.
As of right now, UF does not have any protocols for the Monkeypox virus, but it is in the works of creating them.
If you want more information, contact Cosiano Health Center, or visit the CDC’s website.