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Charlotte area universities finalizing plans to tackle monkeypox

There's now concern monkeypox could become a problem for students heading back to college campuses.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Biden Administration declared the monkeypox outbreak a public health emergency on Thursday, to bring awareness and funding to fight the spread.

This announcement comes as the virus spreads in Mecklenburg County, the case count rising. 

As of August 3, there are 39 cases reported in Mecklenburg County, that's up from 12 cases about two weeks ago. Most of the cases have been in men, who reported having sex with other men, but it can be transmitted through items such as clothing or linens. 

MORE NEWS: US declares public health emergency over monkeypox outbreak

The county received an additional shipment of vaccines this week, which are in high demand. They are around 2,000 people on a waitlist to get the monkeypox shot. 

There's now concern monkeypox could become a problem to students heading back to college campuses.

“I think it's definitely possible for college campuses to be the next hotspot, it's obviously an area where there's a lot of close contacts, living in dorms, and there also tends to be a lot more sexual activity and experimentation and things like that," MGH Institute of Health Professions, Dr. Rachel Cox said.

RELATED: NC residents can get the monkeypox vaccine in SC: Here's who is eligible

WCNC Charlotte reached out to Charlotte area universities to see how they plan to tackle the virus. 

Davidson College and Queens University say they're working to finalize their plans on how they'll tackle the virus. 

Meanwhile, UNC Charlotte says their wastewater lab is testing potential protocols that would be effective in establishing a reliable surveillance system for monkeypox to help inform public health responses. They plan to pay close attention to public health guidance.

Central Piedmont Community College will also monitor the situation. The college sent out an email blast to employees and students on symptoms and how to protect yourself. 

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Belmont Abbey College Provost, Dr. Travis Feezell provided a statement saying, "We continue to be in contact with our County Health partners. At this time, we will continue to monitor the Monkeypox situation." 

In South Carolina, Winthrop University provided a statement from their Health Services director saying, "The Center for Student Wellness is reviewing information received from SC DHEC before drafting campus communications. The office also is awaiting information from the American College Health Association to incorporate into campus communications. Students, faculty and staff will receive information soon."

RELATED: Children are not eligible for monkeypox vaccine unless they’ve been exposed to virus

“I think they should be on high alert for this upcoming storm possibly, they should be prepared for a plan in place for distribution of vaccines, testing and treatment if need be," Dr. Cox said. 

In regards to the vaccine, Mecklenburg County is prioritizing people who are high risk. They anticipate the next shipment of vaccines to be the week of 8/15.

Currently, the vaccine is being offered at no cost to individuals 18 years of age and older who self-identify as high risk according to the following criteria:

  • People who have been in close physical contact with someone diagnosed with monkeypox in the last 14 days
  • Men who have sex with men, or transgender individuals, who report any of the following in the last 90 days:
    • Having multiple or anonymous sex partners
    • Being diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection
    • Receiving HIV PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis)

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