SAN ANTONIO – U.S. officials have declared monkeypox a public health emergency and many are starting to question what this means, especially for those returning to school.
A specialist with UT Health San Antonio joined Leading SA to explain.
“The risk to the general public, including children in public schools, is really very low at this point. Monkeypox is spread by direct skin-to-skin contact and in particular, intimate, including sexual contact. It can also be spread by having contact with porous materials like bed linens or towels that somebody with monkeypox has used. So, in other words, in a household situation and it can also be spread possibly by respiratory droplets with prolonged face-to-face contact with a person who has monkeypox,” Dr. Jan Patterson said.
Surface contact is a concern that the public has expressed, however, Dr. Patterson said monkeypox is less transmissible than COVID.
“The risk typically occurs in a household situation with porous materials like bed linens or towels or that sort of thing. So hard surfaces would be very unlikely to be a source of spread. And of course, in gyms these days, where you’re going to have a lot of contact with those hard surfaces, most gyms have disinfectant wipes that you can use, and it’s always a good idea to use those before you use the equipment,” Dr. Patterson said.
As for vaccines, there are only a limited amount right now and they are aimed at those most at risk.
“There’s not enough vaccine for massive amounts of people in the general public to get the vaccine. We will be expecting more doses of vaccine later in the fall. But right now, the doses that are available are primarily for those at risk and they’re prioritizing those who have been exposed,” said Dr. Patterson.
Lastly, Dr. Patterson explained what the public can do to help stop the spread of monkeypox.
“What the general public can do right now to avoid transmission is to avoid close contact with people who have new unexplained rashes. And if they have been exposed to seek help from their health care provider or the health department,” Dr. Patterson said.