SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) — Two children were diagnosed with monkeypox this week in the U.S., and it has some parents on edge. KRON4 spoke with infectious diseases expert Dr. Abraar Karan and parental public health advocate Taylor Vaughn-Lasley about how parents can protect their children from the virus.
Vaughn Lasley gave birth to twins in May 2020, just a few months into the COVID pandemic. The twins had a complicated birth, and spent some time in the neonatal intensive care unit as a result, “The idea of seeing my babies hooked up to those machines again really scares me,” she said.
When the monkeypox outbreak began, Vaughn Lasley reached out to her fellow Yale graduate Dr. Karan to learn more about what the risks might be to children in this outbreak. “The first thing Dr. Karan shared that I found very helpful was right now the risk of spread to children is very low,” Vaughn Lasley says that gave her some peace of mind.
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“It’s reasonable that parents might be concerned,” Dr Karan says. However, it’s important to note that there isn’t a huge risk to children right now. Most of the diagnosed cases of monkeypox were found to have spread through sexual or intimate contact. The two pediatric cases diagnosed this week were linked to a known exposure; it was a household transmission from a family member or friend.
My questions were arising out of this idea that as a new parent I felt very left behind by COVID policies or lack thereof that were not really addressing the needs of concerns of parents and young children who were under the age of 5 and couldn’t get vaccinated.Taylor Vaugn Lasley
Though Dr. Karan says not to worry, Vaughn Lasley says she still plans to be vigilant, “we have some tools that I’m planning to employ,” she says. Because monkeypox can possibly spread through touch and physical interaction Vaughn Lasley is planning on putting her toddlers in long-sleeve shirts and pants for their playground visits, though the summer heat may make that difficult.
“We sort of have a no-touching rule anyway, but it was nice to hear from Dr. Karan that I shouldn’t be out there spraying down playground equipment with disinfectant,” Vaughn Lasley told KRON4. Though Dr. Karan says there isn’t a lot for parents to be worried about right now, it’s worthwhile to keep an eye on how the virus is spreading.
“Right now we are keeping an eye on the numbers, but the numbers do not justify people taking any sort of major measures,” Dr. Karan spoke about how we need to provide more resources to the groups that are being impacted by this the most at this time, and that includes the community of men who have sexual relations with other men.
“If we do not control the outbreak…then we will inevitably have more spread to other groups,” Dr. Karan says. Increasing access to vaccines and testing, while also cutting red tape around the antiviral treatments available right now could help to slow the spread we have seen.
Dr. Karan says that though it may be tempting to take as many precautions as possible, it may not be necessary, “There is a time to do things, but right now is not the time.”
Dr. Karan noted that future potential spread among children could be especially challenging, “The problem with kids is that kids touch everything…so the key thing we’re trying to do here is prevent this from spreading further, into daycares because it will be very hard to control that.”
As she looks towards her children’s future in childcare and preschool, Vaughn Lasley says she and her partner are committed to finding a community. So far she has found that with other like-minded parents who are focused on providing clean air to local schools. Finding a school that prioritizes children’s health is at the top of her list, “It’s been very challenging to keep the kids entertained, keep them simulated, and keep them growing while also keeping their health a top priority.”