WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT MONKEYPOX.

While the domestic outbreak of monkeypox is increasing and therefore concerning, it is not yet widespread giving us necessary time to take action against it. 

It is important for the Temple community to stay educated on monkeypox risk factors, modes of transmission, preventative measures and treatment options available for infected individuals. 

Below is a list of frequently asked questions about monkeypox to help you better understand what the disease is, how it spreads, how to get it evaluated and how to seek treatment. More information about the monkeypox virus can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website and the city of Philadelphia website.

 

What is monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. The virus is similar to the eradicated smallpox virus yet less contagious and severe than smallpox.  Any person who comes in contact with monkeypox can contract the virus, but it is harder to contract than COVID.

What are the symptoms of the monkeypox infection?

Monkeypox symptoms may include a rash and/or skin lesions that appear on the body and can be accompanied by other flu-like symptoms.  Monkeypox is rarely fatal but can produce the following symptoms.

  • Flu-like symptoms (fever, swollen lymph nodes, chills, fatigue, headache, joint pain) 
  • Skin lesions on the face (in 95% of cases), and palms of the hands and soles of the feet (in 75% of cases), oral mucous membranes (in 70% of cases), genitalia (30%), and conjunctivae (20%), as well as the cornea. 

When is a person contagious?

A person with monkeypox can spread it to others from the time symptoms (fever, or rash) start until the rash has fully healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed. The illness typically lasts 2-4 weeks.

How is monkeypox spread?

While the CDC has identified monkeypox spreading rapidly through men having sex with other men, it is critical to recognize that this disease has no boundaries on a person's sexual orientation or gender identity. 

The virus can spread to anyone through close, personal, skin-to-skin contact,  Monkeypox is not a sexually transmitted disease, but it can be spread through forms of intimate contact, including sex.  The CDC lists the following modes of transmission:

  • Direct contact with monkeypox rash, scabs, or body fluids from a person with monkeypox.
  • Touching objects, fabrics (clothing, bedding, or towels), and surfaces that have been used by someone with monkeypox.
  • Contact with respiratory secretions

This direct contact can happen during intimate contact, including:

  • Oral, anal, and vaginal sex or touching the genitals (penis, testicles, labia, and vagina) or anus (butthole) of a person with monkeypox.
  • Hugging, massage, and kissing.
  • Prolonged face-to-face contact.
  • Touching fabrics and objects during sex that were used by a person with monkeypox and that have not been disinfected, such as bedding, towels, fetish gear, and sex toys.
  • A pregnant person can spread the virus to their fetus through the placenta.

Is there a vaccine available?

The vaccine is in short supply. It is the vaccine used to prevent smallpox (JYNNEOS vaccine). We do not have the vaccine at Temple Student Health.

Vaccine is prioritized to people most likely to get monkeypox, which include:

  • People who have been identified by public health officials as a contact of someone with monkeypox
  • People who are aware that one of their sexual partners in the past 2 weeks has been diagnosed with monkeypox
  • People who had multiple sexual partners in the past 2 weeks in an area with known monkeypox

Contact Philadelphia Department of Public Health for vaccine information and eligibility at 215-685-5488.

Who is at risk for becoming sick with monkeypox?

The overall risk to the U.S. public is low.  Monkeypox is much more difficult to spread than other diseases, such as COVID 19.Monkeypox requires close physical contact to spread and cannot be spread at a distance.  You cannot pick up monkeypox by walking by someone in the grocery store.

  • Anyone who has close physical contact with someone who has monkeypox could potentially catch monkeypox. 

How do I protect myself?

Avoid close contact with anyone who has monkeypox, a flu-like illness or a rash that looks like monkeypox.  Have a conversation with anyone you have close, personal contact with.  Anyone who has a new or unexplained rash, sores or lesions should see a health care provider for medical evaluation.  Temple Student Health can evaluate you.  If you believe you have or have been exposed to monkeypox please call 215-204-7500.  

Wash you hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially before eating or touching your face and after you use bathroom.  The CDC has information about lowering the risk of getting monkeypox during sex.