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Monkeypox in Schools/Daycare Centers?

As I am sure many have heard about the current outbreak of Monkeypox that is circulating around the globe.  At the time of posting this Blog, there have been more than 41,000 cases around the world in 94 different countries.  On July 23, 2022 the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Monkeypox a Global Health Emergency.  On August 4, 2022, the United States government declared Monkeypox a public health emergency.

This Blog does not single out any particular segment of the population.  Rather it recognizes the fact that anyone can contract Monkeypox.  Like other viruses, Monkeypox does not differentiate between a persons sex, ethnicity, age, social economic status, etc. as illustrated in the below Youtube video.  

The Centers for Disease Control in the United States lists the various ways in which Monkeypox can be transmittedThe mode of transmission, regarding close physical contacts and contaminated clothing, is a concern with regards to the return of children to school and daycare centers.  It brings back memories of when I was in grade 5 and got Chickenpox.  I remember one morning when my mom stood in the doorway of my room and laughed in a friendly manner when she saw me.  I was completely covered.  Monkeypox is transmitted in the same manner as Chickenpox.

There needs to be some public health messaging regarding the return of children to school and daycare centers this coming fall.  Children in younger grades (for example), as well as those in daycare centers love to hug each other, share things, play dress up, etc.  If a single case of Monkeypox gets into a school or daycare center, there’s a potential of it spreading to other students.  Then those students have the potential of spreading to their families.

During the first year or so of the COVID 19 pandemic, public health officials were tracking COVID 19 cases in schools and publicly releasing that information.  Then depending on the jurisdiction, that stopped.  Personally I thought that was a ridiculous decision as parents/guardians were completely in the dark of what was happening.  They were unable to make informed decisions of whether or not to keep their child home if there was a suspected/positive case in the school.  Often parents/guardians were relying on each other sharing information back and forth and resorting to Social Media platforms.  In some of the email complaints and online posts that I made, I indicated that schools often contact parents/guardians if there was a case of head lice in their child’s class.  Yet they were now suddenly deciding not to contact parents/guardians about COVID 19 cases? 

With regards to Monkeypox, tracking in schools needs to be done and parents/guardians need to be advised of positive cases (without breaching confidentiality).  While a Monkeypox infection may be mild with children, it can be more debilitating for adults.

Furthermore, those who have become infected with Monkeypox have had to be in isolation for about 4 weeks or more.  Not only would those 4 weeks be incredibly frustrating (and in some cases, quite painful) while dealing with the infection itself, there’s also the economic impact of being off work for 4 weeks.

Currently the vaccine that is effective against Monkeypox is very limited.  I recall reading a local news article a couple of weeks ago that our local health unit had received an initial supply of 50 doses.  That’s for a population service area of approximately 145,000 people.  So, it’s going to take quite a while for the vaccine to be widely available.

So, there’s the health and economic impact of being infected with Monkeypox.  Far too many mistakes were made early on with COVID 19.  We definitely do not want to see Monkeypox cases accelerating.  Therefore, there’s a vested interest in reducing the potential spread.  That includes reducing the potential of Monkeypox spreading through schools and daycare centers.  

Note: The image used for this Blog is an image purchased from Clipart of a child with Chickenpox. 

Until next time, stay safe, healthy and strong.

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