SHS announces monkeypox guidance for fall semester

A COVID testing procotol sign rests resides in front of the Robert E. Tranquada student services center.
Students who contract monkeypox are advised to cover any rashes or skin lesions that develop, according to SHS. (Olivia Shrager • The Student Life)

Last week, the Claremont Colleges’ Student Health Services unveiled monkeypox guidelines for the upcoming fall semester.

In an Aug. 19 email addressed to 7C students, Dr. Prateek Jindal, assistant vice president for health at SHS, outlined guidance for anyone who contracts monkeypox this fall.

Jindal ruled out the need to quarantine, based on guidelines set by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. Contact isolation, however, will be required for individuals who contract the illness. 

According to Jindal, contact isolation requires that any rashes or skin lesions are covered with clothing or bandages. If respiratory symptoms are present, SHS also advises infected individuals to wear a well-fitted mask.

According to a SHS information page on the virus, monkeypox symptoms can arise within three weeks of exposure and can vary from flu-like symptoms to body aches before a painful rash and skin lesions develop. 

SHS added that monkeypox is rarely fatal but can be uncomfortable until symptoms subside. 

According to SHS, the virus can spread through direct contact with skin lesions, rashes, bodily fluids or respiratory secretions of an infected individual. It can also spread by touching objects, such as bedding or towels, that someone with the virus has used.

“A person infected with MPX is usually considered infectious from the time symptoms start until the rash has fully healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed,” according to SHS.

As vaccines are not widely available, LACDPH has reserved access to vaccination for high-risk populations. At this time, vaccine administration is not accessible at private clinics, which SHS said includes their facility. 

Students with a rash of concern for monkeypox will be able to make an appointment to see a provider at SHS, according to Jindal. The provider, if necessary, will collect specimens to send to a laboratory for testing. 

If students, faculty or staff test positive for  monkeypox, SHS advises isolation from others as best as possible or until a health provider suggests otherwise. 

At this time, LACDPH does not recommend moving individuals who contract the virus into a separate isolation space, according to Jindal’s email. 

In the email, Jindal also said that monkeypox cases in LA County have occurred “almost exclusively” in situations involving close personal skin-to-skin exposure, such as during sexual activity. 

Citing LACDPH guidance, Jindal added that “the risk of transmission from casual interactions such as sharing the same space as an infected individual or from a brief handshake are almost negligible.”

Jindal added that SHS will closely monitor the status of the virus on campus and “will provide updates to the campus community should our knowledge and guidance regarding monkeypox change.”

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