BLACKSBURG, Va. (WFXR) — Universities across the country — including Virginia Tech — spent more than two years learning how to tackle COVID-19. This fall, schools are preparing college students for another disease: monkeypox.
Virginia Tech says it’s working closely with the New River Health District to get professional guidance on monkeypox, as well as carrying over practices from the coronavirus pandemic.
“The greatest lesson of all in all of this is to find and establish great partnerships with the broader community,” said Virginia Tech spokesperson Mark Owczarski.
Right now, Owczarski says it’s all about education.
For example, Virginia Tech sends a biweekly email to students explaining the signs and symptoms of monkeypox.
In addition, the university’s health center, campus groups and offices, and student clubs and organizations are working to keep community members informed.
Still, a week into classes, many Hokies are coming onto campus with little knowledge about monkeypox.
“Around campus I’ve never heard of it, but it’s completely safe here,” said Pradikshan Anvarasukalpna, a Virginia Tech student.
“Like everybody my age, I spend at least 30 minutes a day on Facebook and I still don’t know anything about it,” said a fellow Hokie, Jamous Bitrick.
However, students say they aren’t worried about the disease.
“It’s pretty safe out here,” Ayesha Sheikh, another Virginia Tech student, told WFXR News. “Even during COVID, it was pretty calm.”
As of Monday, Aug. 29, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) has reported a total of 312 monkeypox cases — including at least six in the Southwest Virginia Health Region — and 11 hospitalizations around the Commonwealth. In addition, the VDH says 36.2% of those cases are among people between the ages of 20 and 29.