North Texas universities are preparing for students to return to class and are raising awareness about the potential spread of the monkeypox virus.
“Let me begin with what I’ve said before: Every American should take monkeypox seriously,” said Xavier Becerra, secretary of Health and Human Services, during a virtual news conference hosted by the White House Monkeypox Response Team.
In response, some Texas universities have begun communicating with the student body, recommending precautions to take upon returning to campus and informing students of resources that school health centers plan on making available.
A handful of universities issued statements to WFAA about their readiness with regards to monkeypox:
“The university has confirmed it has the capability to test symptomatic individuals and is well versed in quarantine and isolation protocols, given the events of the last two-plus years. Should the need arise, we would follow public health guidance on quarantining,” read a statement by the University of Texas at Arlington.
For its part, Texas Christian University stated, “TCU is dedicated to supporting the health and safety of our campus community. We will continue to work with health authorities for guidance and recommendations on how best to support our students’ health and well-being. Information for students about monkeypox may be found on our student health center website. Our health center provides monkeypox testing, and is prepared to support students as they return to campus.”
Southern Methodist University issued a statement reading, “SMU works closely with our county and state health officials in managing infectious diseases such as monkeypox. To date, no cases have been reported on our campus. The University will continue to monitor the situation and collaborate with our health partners on guidance and response protocols.”
As previously reported by The Dallas Express, medical experts say direct contact with infected wounds, scabs, or bodily fluids of an infected person is the primary way the monkeypox virus spreads, or through respiratory secretions exchanged during extended face-to-face interactions like kissing, embracing, or sexual activity.
Monkeypox vaccines are available and can reduce the severity of symptoms, though eligibility for vaccination is restricted to certain individuals and can vary in different counties.
As of Tuesday, there were 348 confirmed monkeypox cases in Dallas County.