At a time when thousands of college students prepare to flock back to local campuses, Edward Leonard, M.D., a board certified infectious disease specialist at Overlake Medical Center & Clinics, suggests college students take measures to protect themselves from the monkeypox virus.
“While most people will recover completely from monkeypox, it is a miserable experience that can cause severe pain over a significant period of time,” said Leonard. “College is an important, exciting and rewarding phase of life, and it’s best to do all you can to prevent this disease from interfering with it.”
Monkeypox is a zoonotic disease that can cause flu-like symptoms, swollen lymph nodes and a rash that can appear anywhere on the body. The rash typically occurs after symptoms have already developed, and it will turn into raised bumps which fill with fluid and eventually scab over.
Leonard recommends that college students don’t share towels, bedding, or clothing since the virus can spread if a person’s skin comes into contact with a contaminated object. Additionally, Leonard suggests covering coughs and sneezes since respiratory droplets can transmit the monkeypox virus with direct and extended face-to-face exposure.
Leonard also wants college students to recognize that sexual activity, including heterosexual and same-sex, are the most common ways the virus spreads due to prolonged skin-to-skin contact. According to Leonard, it’s important to consider the risk of sexual activity and have a conversation about health status and prevention before engaging in sex.
According to the Washington Department of Health (DOH), as of August 15, there are 282 total confirmed monkeypox cases within the state, with 240 being in King County.