What is monkeypox?
Monkeypox is a rare virus that is spread mostly through close, intimate contact with someone who has monkeypox. While the risk for contracting the disease for the general public is low — it is still important for our community to know how monkeypox is spread, what its symptoms are, how to reduce personal risk and steps to take if you are experiencing symptoms.
More information about monkeypox is available through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
How does monkeypox spread?
- The virus is usually transmitted through close, personal contact with someone who has the disease.
- The virus can spread from person-to-person through direct contact with the infectious rash, scabs, or body fluids, respiratory secretions or droplets during prolonged, face-to-face contact, or during intimate physical contact, such as kissing, cuddling or sex. It can also spread by touching items (such as clothing or linens) that previously touched the infectious rash or body fluids, or by touching infected pets.
- The risk of contracting this infection is very low for those who have been in casual, rather than close, contact with an infected individual (e.g., just being in the same room).
- Monkeypox is not as easily transmissible as influenza, COVID, or chicken pox. However, measures should be taken by anyone in close contact with a monkeypox-infected individual.
- Avoid close, skin-to-skin and face-to-face contact with people who have a rash that looks like monkeypox which are blister or pimple like lesions.
- Do not touch the rash or scabs of another person.
- Do not kiss, hug, cuddle or have sex with someone with suspected monkeypox.
- Do not share eating utensils or cups with others.
- Do not handle or touch the bedding, towels, or clothing of a person with monkeypox.
- Limit your number of sex partners to reduce the possibility of exposure. Having multiple or anonymous sex partners may increase your chances for exposure to monkeypox.
- Practice safe sex, including the use of condoms and dental dams.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
The CDC does not recommend widespread vaccination against monkeypox at this time. The state Department of Health is distributing vaccine to areas with the highest case rates of monkeypox. The allocation system takes into account the number of individuals at risk for monkeypox who also have pre-existing conditions such as HIV.
What are the signs and symptoms?
Symptoms of monkeypox can include:
If you have been exposed to someone with monkeypox, it can take up to 21 days to develop symptoms. For most people, the illness lasts for two to four weeks and causes a mild illness. Severe cases can occur.
What to do if you have been exposed or have signs and symptoms
- If you are concerned you may be experiencing symptoms, a healthcare provider can perform a risk assessment and identify the appropriate steps to take. Students can make an appointment at Student Health Services. If you need to speak to a medical professional after hours or on weekends, you can contact any local urgent care facility or the Guthrie Cortland Medical Center emergency room.
- If a student has confirmed close contact with someone who has been recently diagnosed, the student should self-isolate until they can contact a medical provider. Do not engage in intimacy, attend in-person classes, work or social events until you have been evaluated.
- Faculty and staff should contact their healthcare provider.
According to CDC guidelines, people with monkeypox should remain isolated at home for the duration of illness. The isolation period for monkeypox is two to four weeks.
More monkeypox information
More information on monkeypox is available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the New York state Department of Health.