Miami University’s Division of Student Life sent out an email to all students, staff, faculty and community on August 10 warning of the rising risk of the monkeypox virus.
Though there are currently no cases of monkeypox on campus and less than 1% of cases in the U.S. are in Ohio, Miami announced the university is “taking the virus seriously and preparing for possible cases of monkeypox on campus.”
Hours after Miami’s email, the Butler County General Health District announced the first case of monkeypox in Butler County.
According to the CDC, monkeypox is spread primarily through intimate sexual contact, contact with infected rashes, exchange of bodily fluids, and contact with surfaces an infected person has touched. The primary infection symptom is a rash in the genital areas, hands, feet, chest, face or mouth. Infected people may also present flu-like symptoms.
Miami’s message to the community acknowledged that though the highest risk population at this moment are men who have sex with men, anyone is at risk if exposed to the virus.
The university encouraged individuals who believe they have symptoms of monkeypox to contact their healthcare provider. The recommended prevention method for someone exposed to monkeypox is a vaccination for the smallpox virus, which is related to monkeypox.
Because of the limited supply of vaccines in Ohio, vaccination is only recommended for high-risk people — “those who have had skin-to-skin contact or contact with contaminated material of a confirmed case of monkeypox,” Butler County says.
While there are currently no cases on campus, the university has had planning meetings with the local health department and TriHealth to prepare for possible infection. The email did not give any details on what the university and health officials’ plans may be to address monkeypox infections on campus, or what students' reactions should be if they come in contact with an infected person.
Miami did not announce any changes to students’ return to campus this August.