What Nashville students need to know about monkeypox

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) – Next week, Vanderbilt University students return to campus. Some say that because of the university culture, they fear getting monkeypox.

Currently, monkeypox is not a real concern in Davidson County. Last week, the Metro Nashville Public Health Department reported 5 new cases. But Vanderbilt University said it would put a plan in place, including isolating students who contract the virus in on-campus accommodations.

“My first two years were kind of plagued by COVID already,” said Vanderbilt junior Jonah Vazquez.

Vazquez has been worried this year about falling prey to monkeypox, a virus transmitted through skin-to-skin contact.

“Classes start next week,” Vazquez said. “We don’t really have time to figure things out.”

So far, Vanderbilt has set up this online page for students. They recommend that if one catches monkeypox, they should visit the student health center for testing. They also advised students to self-quarantine at home or in isolation accommodation until the sores or bumps have cleared. Doctors said it could take two to four weeks – much of the time for students.

“Four weeks? A semester is three months,” Vazquez said. “You get monkeypox and you effectively miss a month — and just beyond that, sanity.”

“Students should consider that if they do get the infection, they may indeed be out of commission for a period of time,” said Vanderbilt University Medical Center infectious disease expert Dr. William Schaffner.

Schaffner said if a student contracts the virus, they will heal on their own. However, patients should see a doctor if the lesions or bumps threaten an organ.

“For example, if they’re on the face, they could threaten the eyes,” Dr. Schaffner said. “Or if they’re in the mouth, or if they really affect the genitals, or if they have an inflammation inside the rectum that we call proctitis.”

Schaffner said he’s generally optimistic, but with this virus he’s worried.

“This monkeypox may be so widespread that we can’t stop this outbreak and it may be another virus that we have to live with overtime,” Dr Schaffner said.

He believes that in a few months we could see how monkeypox is affecting college campuses and the rest of society.

“I don’t want to spend time in solitary anymore or just get monkeypox,” Vazquez said. “I would like to have a normal school year.”

We reached out to Fisk University, Belmont University and Tennessee State University to see what precautions they are taking. Belmont is the only university to return to WSMV4 saying:

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