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'This is not a time to be alarmed, this is a time to become informed' | UH among colleges and universities getting the word out about monkeypox

Health experts say the close proximity of how college students live could spur outbreaks.

HOUSTON, Texas — COVID-19 testing is still available in front of the University of Houston’s student center, but monkeypox is getting more and more attention too.

"I’ve heard of it, yeah," said student Valeria Stevens.  "I just know that it’s contagious.”

Monkeypox was the subject of an email sent this week to UH faculty and staff featuring information also shared via social media with students.

"Yes, it is a concern,” said UH student Isaac Durham.  “I just hope that we can do things that can make it so that we can limit the spread of monkeypox.”

RELATED: US declares public health emergency over monkeypox outbreak

A recently rolled out website also includes information about the virus, prevention and other resources.

"We want people to be aware of how this is spread, the symptoms and signs in case they, you know, develop the infection,” said Dr. Steven Spann, UH's vice president of Medical Affairs.

RELATED: Monkeypox: Track Houston area and Texas case numbers; get answers to common questions

The risk of exposure to monkeypox remains low for most people.

But students living in close proximity to each other could spark outbreaks.

And while it’s not as contagious or potentially deadly as COVID-19, Texas A&M University health experts say lessons learned during the pandemic may apply like quarantining and addressing confirmed cases as soon as possible.

"This is not a time to be alarmed, this is a time to become informed," said Dr. Rebecca Fischer with the Texas A&M University School of Public Health.  "And understand, even as we talk about institutions doing this, our personal preparedness plans for ourselves and for our families.”

Most hope that monkeypox will have as minimal an impact as possible on campuses.

We reached out to a number of colleges and universities about monkeypox.

Here's UT Austin's response:

The university has mitigation protocols in place for communicable disease. The risk to the greater campus community remains low, and the monkeypox virus does not spread easily without close contact. Like other illnesses with similar modes of transmission, we provide public health education to the community, appropriate training to healthcare providers, and collaborate with key stakeholders on any environmental strategies needed to reduce the incidence or spread within our population.

Here's Sam Houston State University's response:

The Sam Houston State University Student Health Center’s medical director, who is a Local Health Authority in Walker County, is in close communication with the Texas Department of State Health Services to monitor public health conditions and determine what, if any, preparations may need to be made to support our campus community.

The university will communicate with students, faculty and staff in advance of the fall semester to educate them on prevention and protection measures.

Currently, university officials are evaluating guidance published by both the American College Health Association (ACHA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as it pertains to higher education settings, while University Emergency Management officials are reviewing the campus emergency operations plan as it pertains to communicable diseases.

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