TYLER, Texas (KETK) – The United States of America declared monkeypox a public health emergency Thursday. The announcement comes as college professors and students head back to campus.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, monkeypox has been spreading rapidly, with the latest case number in America being more than 6,600.

Monkeypox can spread through close interaction or skin-to-skin contact. This could be through fabrics, objects, or surfaces used by someone with the virus, making it easy for the virus to spread on college campuses.

“It’s spread through contact, and it has to be close and upfront and personal contact,” said Devora Briones, director of health services at Jarvis Christian University. “There’s a rumor out there that it’s an STI, a sexually transmitted infection. However, it is not.”

Jarvis Christian University plans on addressing the monkeypox outbreak with students during the first week of school by explaining what it is and how it is spread.

“It can also be spread by just kind of prolonged contact with face to face or kissing, or sleeping in bed next to someone who has sores,” said Briones. “It’s contagious by that contact when the individual who is sick has a sores on their skin. And that’s how it’s transmitted.”

Other East Texas colleges plan to address the virus before the school year.

In a statement from the University of Texas at Tyler, “This is a developing situation, so The University of Texas at Tyler is in the situational awareness and planning phase. Our Incident Response Team is monitoring the situation with guidance from local and state health departments as well as experts within our Health Science Center and our health system, UT Health East Texas.”

In a statement from Tyler Junior College, “TJC is monitoring the developments concerning Monkeypox and will continue to assess our recommendations for students and employees.”

According to the CDC, the first case of the current monkeypox outbreak hit the United States on May 17, 2022, with 527 cases reported since then in Texas.

“So the best way to prevent getting monkeypox is stay away from people that have rashes, keep a little bit of social distance, as we’re already doing with COVID, at least three feet, and wash your hands frequently,” said Briones.

Symptoms of monkeypox typically begin within three weeks of exposure to the virus and can include muscle aches, fever, exhaustion, chills, swollen lymph nodes, headache, or rash. Some people might also experience respiratory symptoms such as sore throat, nasal congestion, or cough.