The University’s Student Health Center is committed to ensuring that all Bison community members remain healthy and well. Recently, health agencies throughout the United States have confirmed an increasing number of diagnosed cases of monkeypox. Currently, The District of Columbia is among the national leaders in confirmed infections within a single municipal area.
Fortunately, lessons learned from the ongoing COVID-19 response effort inform our campus-wide public health strategies for disease transmission prevention.
Monkeypox is a rare viral infection that belongs to the orthopoxvirus genus, which also includes smallpox. It spreads primarily through direct contact with a rash, sores or bodily fluids of someone who has the virus. Monkeypox can also be spread through contact with clothes, bedding or other items that have been in contact with the virus and respiratory droplets that can be passed through prolonged face-to-face contact.
The majority of recent cases have been associated with sexual intercourse and other intimate contact, including hugging, kissing, cuddling and massaging.
Symptoms usually start within two weeks of exposure. The most common symptom is a rash or sores that can appear anywhere on the body, including the mouth. Other symptoms may include fever, low energy and swollen lymph nodes. The rash can last from 2-4 weeks, treatment is usually supportive and there are rarely any severe negative outcomes.
It is important to note that the transmission of monkeypox is rare and that preventative measures can minimize a potential widespread outbreak. Prevention measures include:
- Avoid sex and close physical contact with people recently infected or have suspected infection or new onset rash.
- If you have a new onset rash or symptoms of fever, fatigue and swollen lymph nodes, avoid clubs, parties and gatherings until you have been assessed by a medical provider.
- Wear a face mask if you are in close contact with someone with symptoms.
- Practice good hand hygiene.
The University is closely monitoring developments around monkeypox and will adjust our recommendations accordingly.