WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT MPOX.
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 Mpox risk factors, modes of transmission, preventative measures and treatment options available for infected individuals.
Below is a list of frequently asked questions about Mpox 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 Mpox virus can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website and the city of Philadelphia website.
What is Mpox?
Mpox 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 Mpox can contract the virus, but it is harder to contract than COVID.
What are the symptoms of the Mpox infection?
Mpox symptoms may include a rash and/or skin lesions that appear on the body and can be accompanied by other flu-like symptoms. Mpox 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 Mpox 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 Mpox spread?
While the CDC has identified Mpox 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, Mpox 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 Mpox rash, scabs, or body fluids from a person with Mpox.
- Touching objects, fabrics (clothing, bedding, or towels), and surfaces that have been used by someone with Mpox.
- 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 mpox.
- Hugging, massage, and kissing.
- Prolonged face-to-face contact.
- Touching fabrics and objects during sex that were used by a person with mpox 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 mpox, which include:
- People who have been identified by public health officials as a contact of someone with mpox
- People who are aware that one of their sexual partners in the past 2 weeks has been diagnosed with mpox
- People who had multiple sexual partners in the past 2 weeks in an area with known mpox
Contact Philadelphia Department of Public Health for vaccine information and eligibility at 215-685-5488.
Who is at risk for becoming sick with mpox?
The overall risk to the U.S. public is low. Mpox is much more difficult to spread than other diseases, such as COVID 19. Mpox requires close physical contact to spread and cannot be spread at a distance. You cannot pick up mpox by walking by someone in the grocery store.
- Anyone who has close physical contact with someone who has mpox could potentially catch mpox.
How do I protect myself?
Avoid close contact with anyone who has mpox, a flu-like illness or a rash that looks like mpox. 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 mpox 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 mpox during sex.