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Here’s What Michigan Colleges Are Doing About Monkeypox

Experts urge caution, proactive approach to reduce spread

By |2022-09-13T13:53:37-04:00September 9th, 2022|Michigan, News|

College is a time for exploration and sharing, but one thing no college student wants to share is monkeypox. Michigan universities are educating incoming students about the virus, which has been diagnosed in around 22,ooo people across the U.S., including 227 across the state, as of this reporting. The highest concentration of cases in Michigan have been in the Southeast corner of the state, especially the Metro Detroit area. 

University of Michigan (UM)

UM published a Q&A with two public health experts with information aimed at helping the campus community understand the virus, including how it is spread and what resources are available on campus and across the region. 

Students can obtain vaccines at the main Ann Arbor campus health center, but they are available in limited quantities. The university also directs students to the local county health department for information on obtaining a vaccine (the main Ann Arbor campus is located in Washtenaw County, while UM-Dearborn is in Wayne County and UM-Flint is in Genesee County).

Ernst, chief health officer and associate vice president of Student Life discussed MPV with UM’s student newspaper, The University Record. “Our team has been working very closely with local public health officials, including the Washtenaw County Health Department, to coordinate campus evaluation and management strategies,” Ernst said. “In addition to raising awareness about MPV and providing access to testing, treatment and vaccination when indicated, it’s also important to understand the ways in which MPV differs from COVID-19 and why containment strategies may differ.”

Wayne State University (WSU)

Wayne State is offering monkeypox testing at the campus health centers and referring students to county resources for vaccination. The vaccine pipeline from the federal government has not included universities at this point. 

WSU has created a webpage (https://health.wayne.edu/monkeypox/) with detailed information about monkeypox. 

Eastern Michigan University (EMU)

EMU has a comprehensive website (https://www.emich.edu/emusafe/monkeypox/index.php) where the community can find a host of monkeypox information. Links to county, state and federal resources, including details about vaccination, can be found there. While the university has not changed or canceled specific events related to monkeypox, the administration has urged caution and awareness to the EMU community by email. 

Michigan State University (MSU)

MSU administrators sent an email to students and parents indicating the school is “closely monitoring the virus.” And, in an “Ask the Expert” column on the university’s website in August, Peter Gulick, a professor of medicine in the Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine and an infectious disease expert, said, “We need to educate the public about what this is, and how to prevent the spread. In addition, as more vaccines become available, all high-risk people should start getting vaccinated.” 

Linda Vail, Inghman County health officer, stresses that  it’s important to remember that the virus can be transmitted during any close physical contact — not just sex. High-risk activities can include dancing in a crowded bar, kissing and hugging and sharing clothes, bedsheets and towels with someone who has open sores. 

While none of the university communities we researched indicate that they’ve canceled events, all are taking a proactive approach. Each of the campus communities surveyed referred to CDC guidelines on preventing the spread of the virus, including:

  • Those exposed to someone with MPV or who have a rash they think might be MPV, should contact their health care provider as soon as possible.
  • Those with a suspicious rash should stay away from others, cover all of the lesions and wear a mask until they can see their health care provider.
  • Wash hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially before eating or touching one’s face and after using the bathroom.
  • Avoid direct, skin-to-skin contact with people who have MPV lesions or rashes that look like they may be MPV.
  • Talk to the people with whom you have come in direct contact, including intimate and sexual contact, about their general health and any other recent rashes or sores.
  • Avoid contact with any objects, fabrics or materials, such as bedding, clothing and towels, that have been in contact with an infected person.

About the Author:

Sarah Bricker Hunt, a proud Eastern Michigan University alum, is a freelance writer and editor who dabbles in a little of everything.