“Monkeypox virus is spread primarily through direct physical contact to another person with monkeypox who has developed infectious skin lesions,” Dr. Benjamin Chan, the state epidemiologist, said. “Our public health team is working to identify people who may have been exposed to the virus so we can connect them with preventive vaccination, but the risk to the general school population and others in the community is very low.”
Symptoms include fever, chills, headache, exhaustion, muscle aches, sore throat, or swollen lymph nodes. Sometimes, people may only have a rash, officials said. The monkeypox rash is very infectious, but people who do not have monkeypox symptoms are not considered contagious or a risk to others. A person with monkeypox can spread their infection starting when they first develop symptoms, and they remain contagious until their rash has fully healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed.
While hours of prolonged face-to-face contact can potentially spread the virus via droplets, state health officials said this was not the primary way the virus spreads. Officials said the monkeypox virus primarily spreads through sexual networks among persons who identify as gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men. The JYNNEOS vaccine is available from locations around the state, but the most effective way to limit the spread is to limit sexual partners.
Only about two dozen children nationwide have contracted the virus.
Colleges around New Hampshire have also taken steps to limit the spread of the virus on campuses. Educators have communicated with students about the risks and prepared processes for quick testing and treatment, as well as isolation plans, if needed, according to the New Hampshire College and University Council.