Rancho Cotate High student becomes infected with monkeypox

An email to the school community at Rancho Cotate High School in Rohnert Park alerted families to a confirmed case of monkeypox – also called MPX.

"The student is currently quarantined at home and has not been in school this week," the email said. "We are in communication with the Department of Public Health and working with them on contact tracing, much like previous COVID-19 protocols."

Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious disease expert at UCSF explained it’s rare to see the virus in teenagers.

"It’s not usual but it’s not surprising," said Chin-Hong.

He said in a school setting the risk is low. You won’t get MPX by brushing past someone in the hallway. You could get it from prolonged direct or intimate contact with another person who is infected.

The Cotati–Rohnert Park Unified School District said they are working with public health and following the guidance provided. According to the Department of Health Services, there are 32 cases of MPX in Sonoma County.

Some of the first symptoms could include fever, fatigue, muscle aches, and swollen lymph nodes.

Dr. Chin-Hong said it’s a good idea for school districts across the Bay Area to be prepared for possible cases, and for school officials to educate their campus communities.

"I think it’s really, really crucial for schools to have awareness about what it is and what it’s not to dispel myths and combat misinformation," said Chin-Hong. "Because misinformation leads to a lot of stigma. And the last thing you want in a school environment is stigma."

In the email to families, the school said it has cleaned and disinfected all spaces where the student may have been.