What to know about monkeypox before sending your children back to school

SPOKANE, Wash. — The United States has declared the monkeypox outbreak a public health emergency. As students get ready to send their children back to school, the Spokane Regional Health District says parents don’t need to panic.

“If there were to be prolonged skin-to-skin contact in an activity at school, and it will have to be something that is prolonged like no shirts, big wrestling match for an hour just casual contact or passing through or being in the same room is not a way to transmit the virus,” Spokane Regional Health District health officer Dr. Francisco Velazquez said.

Spokane Public Schools issued us a statement, saying, “We will continue to monitor the monkeypox situation closely and will be vigilant in recognizing potential cases in our staff and student population.”

The health district is emphasizing that everyone be aware and knowledgeable. The monkeypox virus is a rare disease and not easily transmissible.

“So I think that if we’re aware of all the signs and symptoms are and what the risks are we should be able to prevent transmission in the community,” Dr. Velazquez said.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says children who may be at higher risk of severe illness include kids eight and under with compromised immune systems and skin conditions such as eczema.

The virus starts with flu like symptoms and swollen lymph nodes then follows with a blister like rash. People who contract monkeypox need to isolate until the rash is completely cleared.

If your child develops symptoms, reach out to your doctor and keep in mind that monkeypox is not the only disease that causes a rash.

“Until we know what it is you should avoid contact with those in the household, and you should avoid sharing particularly porous material items such as towels, linens and blankets because they get saturated with the body fluids from the rash,” Dr. Velazquez said.

The CDC has reported five pediatric cases across the country. The cases came from children who contracted Monkeypox at home.

Health officials say men who have sex with other men make up a vast majority of cases.

Dr. Velasquez says households where the risk may be higher should be mindful of the symptoms.

READ: Monkeypox Q&A: Here’s what you should know