Covering the Land of Lincoln

UI preparing to handle potential monkeypox cases on campus | University-illinois

URBANA — It’s not just about preventing COVID-19 anymore. University of Illinois officials are also planning to address the potential for monkeypox on campus.

For starters, returning students checking into campus housing will get a brochure about how monkeypox spreads and how to avoid becoming infected, according to Chantelle Thompson, chief of staff for Student Affairs.

The brochure will be available to students who live off-campus at welcome events, she said.

The UI won’t be requiring testing or vaccination for monkeypox, because that isn’t being advised at this time by local, state and national public health authorities, she said.

A working group of UI leaders, officials with the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District and health care providers has been meeting weekly and is prepared to scale up a monkeypox response if needed, Thompson said.

Meanwhile, targeted messaging to help prevent a spread of the virus is important, she said.

“The current risk to the general campus community is low,” said Awais Vaid, director of the UI’s McKinley Health Center.

“But it is important to be aware that certain behaviors make you particularly at high risk of exposure,” he said.

Plus, he said, the monkeypox outbreak is evolving, “and in the coming weeks and months we will learn more.”

Thompson said the UI will have a small amount of monkeypox vaccine available, and will be offering testing at McKinley for students with symptoms and those who have been exposed to positive cases.

Vaid said the university is coordinating with the health district for monkeypox vaccine due to the national shortage and has asked it for 20 doses to start.

According to a university FAQ on monkeypox, the UI can provide vaccinations for exposed and high-risk contacts, and anti-virual treatment will be coordinated as needed with local health care providers.

Thompson said there are also plans to handle isolation and quarantine for infected and exposed students who won’t be able to isolate or quarantine at their homes, and to help keep those students up to date on their coursework.

No additional sanitizing in campus facilities will be needed, because standard protocol cleaning is already being done to help prevent COVID-19, Thompson said.

As of Sunday, most of the 672 monkeypox cases in Illinois were in Chicago, which had 554 cases.

There were 60 cases in suburban Cook County, 47 in the collar counties and 11 cases in the rest of the state, according to Illinois Department of Public Health spokesman Mike Claffey.

Three of the 11 cases in the state have been in Champaign County, according to local health officials. The state isn’t identifying the counties where there have been other cases.

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