The University of Michigan must get a lead on monkeypox before it’s too late | #students | #parents

In the last six weeks, the United States has watched domestic monkeypox cases jump from one to over 2,000. This virus is already spreading throughout Michigan, and it shows no sign of slowing down. If powerful institutions don’t act soon, we risk repeating the same failures that exacerbated the COVID-19 pandemic. Before monkeypox develops further, the University of Michigan and its leaders must develop a virus mitigation plan, communicate that plan to local stakeholders and fight to secure vaccines — our best tool for stopping this disease — for those most at risk. 

What is monkeypox? Like smallpox, monkeypox is an orthopoxvirus. This type of virus causes its host’s body to break out in weeping sores. These sores can occur anywhere, but they are often concentrated on the mouth, face, genitals, hands and feet. This virus’s characteristic blisters are extraordinarily painful, keeping people from eating, sleeping or even using the restroom properly for weeks at a time. When these sores heal, they may leave permanent scarring. Those with monkeypox will often display flu-like symptoms: painful swelling of the lymph nodes, skin rashes, exhaustion and more. Monkeypox isn’t a short-lived disease, either. Its symptoms may last up to a month, during which time one must quarantine. This disease can be incredibly disruptive to one’s job, classes, social life and mental health.

People can transmit this virus through primary contact (direct touching), secondary contact (touching something someone sick has touched) and bodily fluids (saliva or fomites). Experts currently believe that primary contact is responsible for the majority of cases, and while the media has focused on the link between sexual activity and monkeypox exposure, Dr. Robert Murphy, an infectious diseases expert at Northwestern Medicine notes that monkeypox is “not an STD in the classic sense.” Any form of direct contact with someone risks exposure — that includes hugging, kissing or even dancing closely with others on a crowded dance floor. 

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