Can you get monkeypox from contact sports? Here's what health officials are saying

Posted at 5:29 AM, Aug 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-09 08:52:07-04

(WXYZ) — Kids head back to the classroom in just a couple of weeks, with COVID-19 still a concern, along with monkeypox.

While a majority of cases of the virus have been in adults, there have been cases in two kids in Indiana, a toddler in California, and an infant traveling to Washington D.C.

That begs the question, how concerned should parents be as contact sports ramp up and kids prepare to go back to school? I went to a high school football coach and a health official to get some answers.

Before the kids get back into the classroom at Warren Mott, some of them are already on the football field warming up for the season ahead. But with a contact sport like football, will they need to be ready to tackle monkeypox?

"I know there's a slight concern that any time you hear of any, you know, diseases or anything of that nature," Warren Mott Football Coach Tom Milanov said.

Milanov says there is not a lot of talk about monkeypox among the coaches, but Macomb County health leaders are keeping a watchful eye for new cases.

"We have currently eight, but we expect that number to increase," Andrew Cox, the Macomb County Health Department Health Officer said on Aug. 4.

Cox says there are no cases of monkeypox in kids in the county, and since it doesn't spread like the coronavirus, normal interaction is not a concern.

"That is a very, very low risk. So we're not going to get monkeypox by walking by someone in school or hallways or at the grocery store," he said.

You need direct, close, skin-to-skin contact. But Cox says even the contact you have in sports isn't enough. It needs to be prolonged exposure.

"Contact sports are safe. There's a very, very low risk here that that would be a way that monkeypox would spread," he said.

But prolonged exposure such as close dancing, sharing towels or clothes, toiletries or bedding is a concern and kids should be warned away from those practices. Cox says his team is also stressing to keep a clean school environment.

While Monkeypox is not spreading widely in children, it's important to know the signs.

They include a rash that turns to one or more blisters, fatigue and headache, lesions in the mouth or throat that may lead to difficulty swallowing.

Checking with your pediatrician is key because monkeypox can be confused for other childhood illnesses like chickenpox, measles, hand foot and mouth or allergic reactions. Kids are more susceptible to severe disease

Milanov has fingers crossed that since monkeypox is less transmissible than the coronavirus, it won't be a big deal in the classroom or on the field.

Children at risk of severe disease include those under 8 years of age, those with immunocompromising conditions, and kids with conditions that lead to breaks in the skin like psoriasis, eczema, burns, chickenpox, cold sores, severe acne or severe diaper rash.

In these cases, take your child to the doctor right away if they begin to show symptoms.