A staff member at Lakeview Primary School has tested positive for monkeypox, the school said in a letter sent to families Monday.
“The staff member will remain off campus until cleared to return to school by medical officials,” the letter signed by Lakeview Primary Principal Tracy Clark reads. “We are in the process of contact tracing following CDC guidelines and will notify parents of any students considered to be close contacts to the affected staff member.”
The employee was not named or otherwise identified due to HIPAA laws.
According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, monkeypox is a virus that can cause a rash, bumps, or sores on or near the genitals, or anal area, but also on other areas like the hands, feet, chest, face, or mouth. These sores can be very painful. The monkeypox virus can also cause flu-like symptoms like fever, headache, muscle aches and backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion, sore throat, nasal congestion, and cough.
Monkeypox can spread from person to person through direct contact with the infectious rash, scabs, fluid from sores or saliva, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). It also can be spread by respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact, or during intimate physical contact, such as kissing, cuddling, or sex.
“While the risk of transmission is very low in a school setting, we wanted to inform you of this potential exposure,” Clark’s letter says.
The school asks any parents who believe their children have monkeypox to notify the school nurse and also their child’s primary care physician.
“We wanted to make you aware of this situation as soon as possible and assure you that we are taking all possible steps to ensure a safe and healthy learning and working environment for students and staff,” Clark said.
According to the CDC, there have been 27,000 monkeypox cases in the U.S. since the outbreak that began in May. Georgia DPH showed 1,854 cases across the state in its weekly report on Oct. 12.
The CDC says infections with the type of monkeypox virus identified in the current outbreak are “rarely” fatal. Over 99% of people who get the current form of the disease are likely to survive. However, people with weakened immune systems, children under 8 years of age, people with a history of eczema, and people who are pregnant or breastfeeding may be more likely to get seriously ill or die.