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Despite rarity, K-12 schools prepare for possible cases of monkeypox

Posted at 5:02 PM, Aug 26, 2022

(WXYZ) — The monkeypox virus is causing concern among parents as children return to the classroom.  An elementary student in Georgia was recently diagnosed with the virus, and another Georgia elementary student is currently undergoing testing. 

My two sons attend elementary school, so as a parent, I understand the concern. But first of all, parents need to know that the risk of kids getting infected with monekypox is still quite low.

Right now, there are over 16,600 confirmed monkeypox cases in the US. Only 17 of them are children under the age of 15. Having said that, it’s important for parents and schools to be informed and prepared as classrooms reopen.

The CDC recommends that schools follow their everyday protocols regarding infectious diseases to lower the transmission risk. So what does that mean? It means asking students, staff, and volunteers to stay home if they feel ill.

The agency also recommends that schools are cleaned and disinfected regularly, and that everyone has access to soap and water when washing their hands. Also, the CDC suggests separate areas for schoolchildren to be assessed in if they feel ill. And lastly, any staff member who assesses sick children needs to have personal protective equipment made available to them.

Now, even though it’s rare for kids to get monkeypox, it’s still important that parents know how it’s spread and what the symptoms are. Especially if your child is involved in wrestling, football, or any sport where there is close contact. That’s because monkeypox virus is spread through close, personal, often skin-to-skin contact. There’s also the potential for it to spread through contaminated objects like water bottles, utensils, clothing, and towels.

Regarding symptoms, they can start off just like other viruses - fever, headache, muscle aches, and fatigue. The rash usually follows 1 to 3 days later, but parents need to know that several illnesses can cause a fever and a rash. So it’s important to not jump to conclusions and talk to your family doctor if you suspect your child has monkeypox.

Lastly, I’d like to stress again that most cases here in the US have been in adults. And most of the cases are associated with men who have sexual contact with other men. However, we know things can change. The CDC is monitoring the spread of monkeypox and will update its guidance if the risk increases in school settings and for the general public.

As more people turn to a vegan lifestyle, Dr. Partha Nandi explores the pros and cons of a plant-based diet.  He speaks with a married couple who made the decision together to become vegans. And interviews a vegan coach who gives helpful tips on changing your eating habits. Tune in this Saturday, August 27th at 12 pm.