SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV)– Last year when parents were getting ready to send their kids back to school, the risk of COVID-19 exposure was top of mind. This year monkeypox has been added to the list.

With just over 7,500 people now infected with the disease nationwide and kids under the age of 8 having a potential increased risk of severe disease, Onondaga County Medical Society President, Dr. Robert Dracker wants to reassure parents. 

“The risk for children is extremely low, as you know the risk of contracting monkeypox is from direct exposure and it’s not airborne.”

Dr. Robert Dracker, Onondaga County Medical Society President

The disease normally spreads through bodily fluids or direct contact with the lesions that appear when infected. However, Dr. Dracker said the virus can spread through blankets, towels, and other materials.

“I think the schools and the daycare centers should just be reminded to use good hygienic approaches to things in terms of good hand washing. If you have an atypical rash and you’re a teacher or daycare worker or administrator you should be seen by a physician especially if you’re in a risk group.”

Dr. Robert Dracker, Onondaga County Medical Society President

Risk groups included adults, as the virus is easily spread through sexual transmission, in particular gay men, have seen an uptick in cases. However, Dr. Dracker wants to make it clear that this disease is not classified as a sexually transmitted disease. 

Children with compromised immune systems are at a greater risk for severe disease that could be fatal, but in general, the virus isn’t deadly. 

Dr. Dracker said it’s essential to pay attention to who they’re spending time around and if you know they’ve had contact with someone infected, it’s best to call their pediatrician or the county health department. The most telltale sign of an infection is an atypical rash, but you can be contagious before the lesions appear. 

Dr. Dracker said lesions need to be present to be able to test for the disease, adding that tests aren’t readily available in doctors’ offices. Normally a sample has to be sent to the state laboratory or CDC for further testing. As for vaccines, they are available and offered to select groups who may have been exposed, but they are not available to the general public at this time.