Scientists at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), along with state and local public health partners, are tracking cases of monkeypox in the United States. As we begin a new academic year, we wanted to share with you important information about the virus and how preventative measures can keep you safe and healthy.
What is monkeypox?
According to the CDC, monkeypox is a rare disease with symptoms including fever, headache, muscle aches and backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion, respiratory symptoms (e.g. sore throat, congestion, cough) and a rash that can look like pimples or blisters that appears on the face, inside the mouth, and on other parts of the body, like the hands, feet, chest, and genitals. Monkeypox symptoms usually start within three (3) weeks of exposure and typically lasts 2-4 weeks. Even though you should get better within 2-4 weeks, you should see a healthcare provider as soon as you get symptoms that are potentially from monkeypox.
How do you get monkeypox?
It is important to note that monkeypox is completely different from the virus that causes COVID-19, especially in terms of how it spreads, and it is not life threatening. The monkeypox virus is not known to linger in the air and is not transmitted during short periods of shared space. Monkeypox is primarily spread through close, personal, and/or intimate contact with an individual infected or by contact with an object used by someone with monkeypox. Examples include:
- Skin-to-skin contact with a person who has a rash or scabs from monkeypox. This can include hugging, cuddling, a massage, close contact sports, through all forms of sexual contact, or bodily fluids of an infected person.
You can also get monkeypox from contact with objects, fabrics (clothing, bedding, or towels), and surfaces that have been used by someone with monkeypox.
Who can get monkeypox?
Anyone can get monkeypox as it is transmitted by skin contact, and sexual contact is not required for transmission. Please also be mindful that there are various skin and genetic conditions (such as acne) that may resemble monkeypox. Respect for the dignity of all people is a Valpo value, and it is inconsistent with our community values to make assumptions about anyone, especially someone unfortunately sick with this virus.
What can one do to protect themselves from monkeypox?
The best steps you can take regarding monkeypox, COVID-19, and other health matters is to practice good health hygiene, stay home if you are not feeling well, contact your medical provider if you have symptoms, sanitize hands and surfaces regularly, and wear a mask in appropriate settings. Avoid skin-to-skin contact with anyone who has a rash that could be monkeypox. You can prevent infection by avoiding contact with people diagnosed with monkeypox and wearing a mask if you are in contact with someone who has symptoms or a confirmed case.
Do not share plates, silverware, or cups
Do not touch or share sheets, blankets, towels, or clothing
While there are effective vaccines against monkeypox, supplies are limited at this time. Currently, the CDC recommends vaccines for those who may have been exposed to monkeypox, or are more susceptible to the monkeypox virus.
What should I do if I think I have monkeypox?
Students with monkeypox symptoms, a new or unexplained rash, or who have been exposed to the disease, should call the Student Health Center which can provide guidance, testing, and treatment.
If you potentially have monkeypox, cover all rashes with clothes, gloves, bandages, and wear a mask.
Avoid touching anyone or exposing others until you have been to the doctor and received directions.
If your test result is positive, follow your healthcare provider’s recommendations.
Wash your hands often and try not to touch your eyes. If you wear contact lenses, wear glasses instead if possible, to avoid eye infection.
Stay in a space away from others until your rash has healed, all scabs have fallen off, and a fresh layer of intact skin has formed. This may mean wearing a mask and always cleaning and disinfecting frequently.
What happens if I am diagnosed with monkeypox?
The University will require infected students to leave campus, return home, and go into isolation and forgo in-person classes or activities while infectious, which is between two (2) and four (4) weeks. On-campus isolation in a single space for this extended period of time is not in anyone’s best interests. For international students who currently reside in on-campus University housing, isolation options may be made available.
We will continue to work closely with our public health partners in preventing and minimizing disease. We encourage you to refer to the CDC for the latest information and guidance. As always, our commitment to a safe and healthy campus community remains a focus. Finally, please refer to a new Campus Community Health issues and information webpage at www.valpo.edu/campus-health that will replace the COVID-19 page, and provide weekly updated information (updated Tuesdays) about pertinent health concerns for the campus community.
We continue to appreciate your support and dedication to all fellow Beacons and their health and safety, and your proactive attention to preventative care around all health issues. Should you have any questions, please contact the Student Health Center for information and guidance.
Student Life Team