ROANOKE, Va. – Some health experts are concerned about the number of monkeypox cases in the U.S. as students are back to school. The CDC says there are more than 18,000 confirmed cases in the country. The Biden Administration declared it a public health emergency.
Monkeypox is a rare and contagious rash illness that is spread through sexual or intimate contact, hugging, kissing, cuddling or even sharing a bed, towel or dirty clothes.
“Overwhelming monkeypox is a mild illness, primarily a rash, some viral symptoms, fever, myalgia perhaps,” said Dr. Cynthia Morrow, the Director of Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts.
The Virginia Department of Health reported 325 cases in the Commonwealth, with nearly 80% reported in people 20-39 years old.
“It’s causing significant discomfort for those who have it, and it’s transmissible, so we want to continue to do everything we can to empower people to prevent the transmission of it,” she added.
With students returning to college, there is a concern that campuses are potentially at risk for the virus to spread. But VHD says that risk is low if students are being safe.
“We know that anonymous sex, sex with multiple partners, unprotected sex are all increased risk factors in STIs, and while monkeypox is not an STI, that close skin-to-skin contact increases the transmission of monkeypox.”
The monkeypox vaccine is not recommended for everyone, only for those at high risk.