With monkeypox all over the news lately, you may be wondering about your family’s risk for contracting the virus. So far, the disease, which spreads through close contact, has been found mostly among adults. However, children can still contract the virus so it’s good to be aware of the risk levels of certain activities.

What should I know about monkeypox as my child goes back to school?

Your child still has a low risk of contracting monkeypox, and unlike COVID-19 and flu, monkeypox is unlikely to be spread through brief accidental contacts or interactions. Parents should keep themselves educated about this virus and the rate of transmission. While there is potential for this virus to spread in places like daycares and schools, the risk of your child contracting it from those places is not high.

How can kids spread monkeypox?

There is some spread that happens when in contact with clothing or other objects that have been in direct contact with monkeypox lesions. Making sure that kids are only using items that belong to them is a good way to control the spread (for example, not sharing clothing, blankets, etc.).

Monkeypox risks from everyday activities

Because monkeypox is spread through skin-to-skin contact, a good precaution is to cover your arms and legs at crowded events. Another is not sharing water bottles or other personal items. Here’s a breakdown of what your family’s risk may be for certain activities.

High Risk

  • Direct contact with an infected person’s rash, scabs or body fluids

Moderate Risk

  • Kissing
  • Cuddling
  • Attending a crowded indoor event where people are not fully clothed

Some Risk

  • Sharing drinks
  • Sharing a bed, towels or personal toiletry items
  • Attending a crowded indoor event with fully clothed people

Unlikely Risk

  • Attending an outdoor event with mostly clothed people
  • Trying on clothing at a store
  • Touching doorknobs, light switches or other surfaces
  • Traveling in an airport or on a plane
  • Swimming in a pool or other body of water
  • Riding public transit
  • Using public restrooms
  • Grocery shopping
  • Dining out
  • Going to the gym

Monkeypox Risks
You can download a pdf of our Monkeypox Risks infographic here.

ABOUT THE EXPERT

Xiaoyan Song Xiaoyan Song, PhD, MBBS, MSc, is Chief Infection Control Officer at Children's National Hospital and a Professor of Pediatrics at the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

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