A daycare worker from Illinois with monkeypox might have exposed children under his care, prompting experts to say that “it was only a matter of time” before the outbreak made it to congregate settings.
First detected in May, the ongoing monkeypox outbreak has quickly made a name for itself by being contagious. Spreading through skin-to-skin contact, the virus previously led experts to tag pool parties, bath houses, and music festivals as “hotbeds for the spread.”
A new case reported in Champaign County in central Illinois suggested the virus may have reached congregate settings too. An infected daycare worker might have spread it to children under his care.
While the number of children possibly exposed wasn’t clear, an exemption was granted to allow the kids to receive the vaccine. No other people related to the center have tested positive, according to an NBC report.
But according to Dr. Alexandra Brugler Yonts, an infectious disease specialist at the Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C., there is still a definite potential for spread of monkeypox in daycares, schools, college campuses, prisons, and other similar settings.
“Anywhere that close physical, skin-to-skin contact occurs – particularly of people who are in various stages of undress – there is risk,” Brugler Yonts said.
It’s not only schools and congregate living settings that are ripe for monkeypox spread, as pools and waterparks are also on Brugler Yonts’ list of locations where transmission could occur. Given the heat and tendency for minimizing clothing – especially in the summer, transmissions could happen “not through the water, but through bumping up against someone with active lesions.”
Other potentially problematic situations include contact sports, like football and wrestling.
“Hopefully, outbreaks can be contained more locally, but as people continue to travel, participate in the [aforementioned] activities, and then with school starting soon …. I think this is going to be more widespread. There have already been cases in almost every state in the U.S.,” she added.
As of the latest update from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the country now has more than 7,500 cases, with the majority found in New York, California and Florida.