By Ahly Manzueta —A&E Editor
Two years after a world-wide pandemic, another disease called monkeypox has begun to spread around the globe.
Monkeypox is a zoonotic disease – meaning it originally spread from animals to humans. It is genetically similar to smallpox, causing rash and skin lesions and flu-like symptoms. There are currently 374 cases of monkeypox in Massachusetts whereas California has the most cases with 4,753. Monkeypox symptoms typically start within 3 weeks of exposure. The CDC says symptoms may include flu-like symptoms, but the main identifier of monkeypox is its rash or lesions. These sores are extremely painful and can generate anywhere on or inside the body – generally lasting two to four weeks. It can be contracted through close physical contact, direct contact with sores, and or contact with respiratory secretions.
Ms. Kelley Kallin, a biology teacher at SHS, says that there currently is no need to panic. “At this point in time I don’t think monkeypox is cause for alarm or concern. I think it’s important for people if they have questions about monkeypox as a disease and how it’s transmitted, that they go to appropriate resources like the CDC or the WHO,” Kallin said.
Students are much more afraid of this disease because of how it could permanently affect your appearance and not just your health. “I don’t know much about monkeypox, but I know I really don’t want it,” Junior Abbey Ryan said.
In terms of prevention, masking and routine hand washing are the easiest and most convenient ways to prevent contracting monkeypox. The CDC recommends not handling anything used by an infected person. “Do not share eating utensils or cups with a person with monkeypox. Do not handle or touch the bedding, towels, or clothing of a person with monkeypox,” wrote the CDC. If infected, the best thing to do is to stay home and isolate.
Due to the smaller number of cases in Massachusetts at this time, some don’t believe that there is cause for alarm. “I don’t know that we’re at a point, given the very few cases in the state of Massachusetts, that we need to “spread awareness” at the high school level. I think there’s enough info on state public health sites,” said Kallin. Despite this, cases continue to rise.
The first case of monkeypox in Boston Public Schools was reported on September 19. Mayor Michelle Wu says that steps have been taken to protect the school’s safety. “There was one case identified in an adult at one of our schools and the contact tracing has been done. There’s been limited exposure and everyone who has needed to have resources and vaccinations are being contacted and that is being made available out of an abundance of caution,” said Wu.
Boston Public School students and parents are concerned for their health safety. BPS says that they are following the guidelines provided to deal with this situation. “We are following the guidance provided by local, state, and federal health officials and actively working with our partners at the Boston Public Health Commission. We remain deeply committed to transparency and are taking all necessary precautions,” they wrote.