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Connecticut colleges and universities step up to keep students safe from monkeypox

Bebeto Matthews

As colleges across Connecticut are getting ready to start a new academic year, health officials are offering tips for students to stay safe from the monkeypox virus.

The state has 57 cases of monkeypox, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

WSHU’s Mike Lyle spoke with Dr. Jo-Anne Passalacqua, infectious disease expert at St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport.

WSHU: What makes monkeypox different from the coronavirus, and what impact could it have on college campuses?

JP: This is certainly a different virus from COVID, but it’s still a concern to us. We’ve seen cases on at least five university campuses across the U.S. thus far. Because colleges and universities are a very communal setting, we worry that this will become more widespread amongst our students if we don’t raise awareness. This virus requires very close face-to-face contact. It can be spread through droplets, but it’s not something that’s going to be spread across a room the way that COVID could have.

WSHU: What are the warning signs of monkeypox that students should be aware of?

JP:  I think it’s important for them to recognize that the most prominent feature of the virus is the rash. The rash could look like pimples that often develop on the face, arms or the legs. So those areas should raise concern that a student may have been exposed and should cause them either to go to their student health department or to contact their local health department for treatment. 

WSHU: What can students do to keep themselves and their classmates safe this school year?

JP: I would ask them to please be aware of what this illness looks like. If they’re ill, please don’t be out and among groups of other people until they’re tested and more certain about what’s going on. And know who they’re with so if they fall ill, we can reach out to those folks as well.

Sacred Heart University is the licensee of WSHU Public Radio. 

Mike Lyle is a former reporter and host at WSHU.