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North Central College preps for possibility of small number of monkeypox cases on Naperville campus – Chicago Tribune

Like other universities and colleges across the state, North Central College in Naperville is preparing for the possible spread of the monkeypox virus.

While there are no known cases of monkeypox on campus, there are in DuPage County and officials at the college’s Dyson Wellness Center said monkeypox can affect anyone regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation.

“We are preparing our community for the possibility of a small number of cases on campus,” the wellness center team said in a note sent to the campus community.

Students are returning to campus for the fall semester that starts Aug. 24.

dr Emily Landon, University of Chicago Medicine’s executive director for infection prevention and control, said monkeypox could pose a unique risk to students because they live in close quarters and often have heightened sexual contact.

“We have to be concerned about monkeypox on college campuses,” Landon said. “Monkeypox spreads through close, physical contact, and there’s a lot of social and sexual networks in colleges.”

Even if students on the college campus test positive, any spread into the rest of the Naperville community is unlikely, according to Dr. Jonathan Pinsky, an infectious disease specialist at Edward Hospital in Naperville.

Monkeypox is not as contagious as other viruses, he said.

“You really need very close contact, and really it’s predominantly spread by direct contact with skin lesions … It’s not something that can be spread in casual contact,” Pinsky said.

What’s happening now, he said, is the virus is spreading in a community or a sexual network predominantly made up of men who have sex with men.

“In that community, there’s certainly a much higher chance of coming into contact with monkeypox and then getting infected,” Pinsky said.

It’s why, he said, there’s been a push to get the vaccine out to that group of people.

“That doesn’t mean it can’t spread outside of that community. But right now, that’s where it’s spreading predominately,” Pinsky said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, monkeypox is a rare disease that’s part of the same family of viruses that causes smallpox.

Symptoms are similar to those of smallpox but milder. It’s rarely fatal.

Most people will develop a rash, which starts out as a spot, after one to four days of having flu-like symptoms, the CDC says. Some will just develop the rash.

Symptoms usually appear within three weeks after a person is exposed.

Someone is contagious from the time symptoms start until the rash has fully healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed, which can take two to four weeks.

North Central is advising students who experience symptoms to contact the college’s Dyson Wellness Center or their health care provider or go to an immediate care clinic or the emergency room.

The college also advises those who have talked to a health care provider and are awaiting test results to avoid close contact with any people or pets.

In addition, they should avoid public transportation and crowds, keep any rash covered with clothing and wear a well-fitting disposable mask.

If a positive test results are confirmed, North Central students are required to isolate at home, complete the college’s Monkeypox Virus Reporting Form and follow other guidelines provided by the college.

As of last week, 14 cases of monkeypox were reported in DuPage County. The count is up to 851 in Illinois and 11,890 in the United States this week.

Chicago Tribune’s Jake Sheridan contributed.

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