Monkeypox: What to know and what to look for on campus


Drew Coffey, Campus Reporter

While the threat and frequency of COVID-19 cases decrease by the day, a new viral disease, Monkeypox, poses a potential risk for the Charleston community and Eastern’s campus.  

Although there are currently no cases in Coles County, Eastern and Sarah Bush Lincoln hospital are prepared for cases of Monkeypox as a precaution. 

Right now, the total number of Monkeypox cases in Illinois are 1,005.

But what is the community as well as Eastern Illinois University doing to prepare in the event of a Monkeypox case? 

According to Dr. Eric Davidson, Executive Director of Health and Human Services at Eastern Illinois University, spreading prevention information is the best course of action to protect EIU students. 

“EIU’s medical clinic is awaiting further guidance from the CDC, and we have had many teachers attend virtual seminars discussing what can be done about the virus,” Davidson said.  

Davidson said that the campus is engaged in regular cleaning and is working closely with the Coles County Health Department to avoid the spread of Monkeypox. 

 Davidson assures students that the university will not shut down from monkeypox as it is less contagious than COVID-19. 

“I don’t see us going remote at all,” Davidson said. “Since it is transferred from skin-to-skin contact, it is less likely to spread as quickly as Covid.” 

Davidson continues to work with faculty and the health department to bring awareness and inform students on the virus.

Monkeypox is spread through close skin-to-skin contact, contact with bodily fluids and even contaminated materials such as clothing.  

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, symptoms of Monkeypox are: 

  • Fever 
  • Headache 
  • Muscle aches 
  • Backache 
  • Swollen lymph nodes 
  • Chills  
  • Exhaustion 

In Illinois, cases vary with numbers in Chicago and Champaign, with other areas close to St. Louis also showing cases, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. 

Sarah Bush Lincoln Infection Preventionist Shannon Comer said that the hospital strongly suggests being mindful of Monkeypox in the community and on campus to prevent a large number of cases.  

“If you think you have Monkeypox, put on a mask immediately,” Comer said. “Don’t wait and go see a provider.”  

Comer said that students from out of state as well as international students should communicate and be aware of potential symptoms upon returning home on the holidays. 

Fellow Sarah Bush Lincoln Infection Preventionist Lynn Berner said “knowledge is power” regarding the prevention of Monkeypox. 

“Education is the most important thing in infection prevention to get control of it early,” Berner said. 

Berner also suggests students to have open conversations with potential sexual partners before engaging in sexual contact and to check for symptoms daily.  

 Mindfulness towards those who are more susceptible to Monkeypox should be a large focus on campus, Berner said.  

“It is not just about protecting yourself,” Berner said. “Knowing the severity of the virus can protect other folks and family members from becoming infected.” 

Berner and Comer along with other departments of the hospital are spreading information of the virus to the community but are still awaiting further direction from the CDC. 


Drew Coffey can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].