Health News

While monkeypox threat is low, some remain concerned

Dylan Burkett/The Cougar

While the threat of monkeypox is low, the outbreak caused concern for some at the University. The disease has infected nearly 2,000 people in the state, along with the recent death of an immunocompromised individual.

An email previously sent out by the University reassured students that the situation is being constantly monitored and the threat of monkeypox is seen as low. The vice president for medical affairs Dr. Stephen Spann stated that education is the top priority and noted a newly created website to spread information regarding the disease and the stigma surrounding it.

“The University is preparing response plans and University-specific guidance, should there be any cases on campus,” Spann said. “Just as we have seen with other communicable diseases, infection rates on campus are likely to mirror cases in the community.”

The disease is spread mainly through skin-to-skin contact, unlike COVID-19 which is spread through droplets and airborne transmission. While monkeypox is being seen largely in men who have sex with men, the spread of it is not limited to one community.

“Monkeypox is mostly transmitted through intimate, skin-to-skin contact, including sexual contact; however, it is not isolated to certain communities,” Spann said. “As an inclusive and caring university community, we have a shared responsibility to refrain from using stigmatizing words or actions related to monkeypox virus.”

The University is continuously monitoring the situation and even has testing available for the UH community. Students are able to be tested at the Student Health Center, with faculty and staff testing at the Family Care Center.

Some students, however, don’t think the University is doing enough. Exploratory junior Aud Hieronymus suggested putting a form of plastic protection over the numerous sitting areas in the student centers. A concern of theirs, however, is the possibility of members in the queer community being outed if they contract the disease.

“I wear pins with my sexuality and gender identity— because I want any other queer folx out and about to notice me, as I know I get very excited when I see other queer people,” Hieronymus said. “It’s a different thing in medicine since doctors are in a very powerful position”

The biggest symptom of monkeypox is a rash, along with bumps, blisters and ulcers. When working to prevent transmission, avoid skin-to-skin contact with someone diagnosed or showing symptoms.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a live tracker on their website, with Texas having one of the highest case counts in the country.

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