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How One Calif. University is Preparing for Monkeypox

“The concerns that we have heard have been mostly from students. It’s interesting. I hadn’t thought about it actually, until you asked that, but I haven’t heard from parents.”

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(TNS) - Parents peppered student health services leaders at UC Davis with questions about how the university would manage the spread of COVID-19 as their children returned to campus back in 2020 at start of a pandemic.

But with the fall 2022 quarter looming, Dr. Cindy Schorzman is fielding questions from a different UC Davis demographic since federal and California officials declared a public health emergency over the spread of monkeypox.

“The concerns that we have heard have been mostly from students,” said Schorzman, the medical director for the university’s Student Health and Counseling Services. “It’s interesting. I hadn’t thought about it actually, until you asked that, but I haven’t heard from parents.”

Schorzman feels prepared to address monkeypox or any other public health crisis after having created a public health unit charged with containing the spread of COVID-19 on the University of California, Davis, campus at the height of the global pandemic.

The fall quarter begins Sept. 19, and already, the student health center has begun sharing information about monkeypox on social media and in other channels. Students have begun to respond, Schorzman said, asking lots of fundamental questions.

  • “How is it transmitted?”
  • “How likely am I to get it?”
  • “When can I get the vaccine? Where’s that available?”
  • “What happens if I think I might have it?”
  • “How do I reach out? How do I get treatment? What might treatment look like?”
  • “Is there somewhere I can isolate? I live in a place where that isn’t really that easy.”
  • “What’s going to happen with school?”

Students are concerned about the impact on their coursework because UC Davis operates on a quarter system with 10 weeks of classes, Schorzman said, and the monkeypox isolation period can last as long as four weeks.

That’s how long it may take monkeypox lesions to scab over and fall off. An infected person is contagious from the onset of the flu-like symptoms the virus causes until scabs disappear.

What students need to know about monkeypox

If UC Davis students can’t make their classes because of monkeypox or any other infectious disease, they should reach out to their instructors to determine how best to proceed. UC Davis guidelines allow faculty to determine whether to excuse students from a mandatory class, offer extensions on assignments or grant an incomplete grade for a set time to allow the student to finish required work.

Americans have so far reported getting the milder West African strain of the disease, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . Still, some of those infected have reported that the lesions can be quite painful.

Monkeypox has primarily spread through touching the scabs, rash or body fluids of an infected person. Many cases have been traced to intimate, skin-to-skin contact such as sex, kissing, hugging and massage, but the disease also can be transmitted by touching clothing, bed sheets, towels and other items used by an infected person.

Data have shown that people who have sex with multiple partners are at greater risk of getting the disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is especially true for bisexual and gay men because they have a smaller social network than heterosexuals do, UC Davis experts say.

The disease gained a foothold among gay and bisexual men in spring of this year as hundreds gathered for raves and Gay Pride events in Europe and the Canary Islands.

Schorzman said her team is working closely with the Yolo County Health and Human Services Agency to ensure that students at high risk of contracting the disease will be able to get access to a vaccine or treatment. The student health unit also secured the necessary approvals from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control to be able to administer the drugs.

How UC Davis shares health facts

Prevention efforts have included using social media channels to educate students with evidence-based, factual sources of information, as well as working alongside other university partners such as the Department of Public Health Sciences which trained hundreds of student ambassadors in facts about infectious diseases and how to share information with their peers, Schorzman said.

If students wish to schedule a medical appointment or need more information, they can call 530-752-2349 or use the Health-e-Messaging portal. And, just as during the COVID-19 pandemic, the university’s student housing team will continue to work closely with the student health unit to provide isolation quarters for any students who need them, Schorzman said.

When Yolo County gets supplies of the TPOXX vaccine, Schorzman said she expects her team will be able to prescribe it to students who find themselves infected with monkeypox, and they also will be able to administer the JYNNEOS vaccine to prevent monkeypox, or MPX, to people considered to be at high risk of infection.

The medical team in the student health unit have even trained in giving the JYNNEOS vaccine as an intradermal injection within the skin, a technique that allows them to use a fifth of the dosage required with subcutaneous injections into the fat layer beneath the skin. The medical community began adopting intradermal injection earlier this summer when the vaccine was in short supply and studies showed that the lower dosage was just as effective when injected intradermally.

Since the monkeypox vaccine is not yet available in Yolo County, UC Davis Student Health and Counseling Services recommended their students check out the vaccine clinics that the Sacramento County Department of Health Services has scheduled.

The next clinic will be noon to 3 p.m. Wednesday at Sunburst Projects, 2143 Hurley Way, Unit 240, in Sacramento. Sacramento public health officials suggest making an appointment at, but walk-ins will be welcome as long as supplies last.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the CDC’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in a Sirius XM interview on Tuesday that he’s encouraged to see data showing that the spread of monkeypox has slowed. On Wednesday, California officials shared a chart showing that the daily number of cases peaked at roughly 140 on Aug. 1 and had dropped precipitously to less than 20 on Aug. 31.

“We are starting to see a flattening of the curve of monkeypox,” said Fauci, speaking on Doctor Radio’s “Doctor Radio Reports.” He attributed the trend to “ready availability of vaccines” and the at-risk community limiting their number of contacts.

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