What is Monkeypox?
Monkeypox is a viral infection first identified in 1958 and first seen in humans in the 1970s. The virus that causes monkeypox is an orthopoxvirus, which is the same family of viruses that cause smallpox. Symptoms are similar to smallpox, but milder, and monkeypox is rarely fatal. Monkeypox is not related to chickenpox.
Please review the information about this particular infection below.
Monkeypox Health & Safety Protocols
Together, we are responsible for keeping our Anna Maria College community safe and healthy. By individually following college protocols and practices to prevent the spread of infections, we create a safe campus for us all. For community members or visitors if you are sick or symptomatic we ask that you stay home.
First, anyone can get monkeypox; it is not a sexually transmitted infection. The monkeypox virus is transmitted through very close and/or prolonged close personal contact with someone with symptoms, including through:
- Close physical skin-to-skin contact
- Large respiratory droplets spread by face-to-face interaction
- Touching contaminated materials like bedding, towels, clothing, or other objects that have had prolonged contact with a symptomatic individual
Monkeypox is not transmitted through casual conversations, walking by someone who has monkeypox, or by touching items like doorknobs.
While most cases are mild, some cases can be severe, and some severe cases can lead to death.
Monkeypox causes a rash with firm bumps that may initially look like pimples or blisters and may be painful or itchy. The rash is typically concentrated on the face and extremities (hands and feet) but can appear anywhere on the body including on or near the genitals, chest, back, or on mucosal membranes such as inside the mouth and throat.
The rash will go through several stages, including scabs, before healing.
Other symptoms can include fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes, exhaustion, muscle aches, headache, and respiratory symptoms like sore throat, cough, and runny nose.
Sometimes people have flu-like symptoms before the rash, some people get a rash first, followed by other symptoms. Others only experience a rash.
Monkeypox symptoms usually start within 3 weeks of exposure to the virus. If someone has flu-like symptoms, they will usually develop a rash 1-4 days later. The virus can be spread from the time symptoms start until the rash has healed, all scabs have fallen off, and a fresh layer of skin has formed. The illness typically lasts from 2-4 weeks.
Isolate yourself from others and contact a healthcare provider right away. Health Services can see you for an appointment during regular clinic hours; when you call to schedule (508-849-3315) let our staff know you are experiencing monkeypox symptoms. On weekends, when Health Services is closed, students can be seen at a local urgent care or public health clinic. https://annamaria.edu/shs#urgent
If you have been exposed to monkeypox, you may be recommended to get a vaccine.
If you have new or unexplained rashes or sores wear a mask and cover your rashes and sores until you get them checked out by a healthcare provider. Take a break from in-person gatherings, especially if they involve close, personal skin-to-skin contact. This includes sexual activity.
Avoid intimate and physical contact with anyone who has symptoms. Do not touch the rash or scabs of someone who has monkeypox. Do not kiss, hug, cuddle, or have sex with someone who has monkeypox. Don’t share eating utensils or cups with someone with monkeypox.
Talk openly with your sexual partner(s) about symptoms before contact.
Wash your hands (this is a healthy habit that helps prevent all infections, not just monkeypox)
Clean objects, surfaces, towels, and clothes if they came in contact with someone who has symptoms
Health Services providers and staff have been trained in identifying monkeypox, and we have local testing and vaccine resources available for individuals who have had a known exposure.
There are plans for isolation spaces for residential students who contract monkeypox and need to self-isolate until the infectious period has passed. If monkeypox is identified on campus, Health Services providers will contact the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) and follow their guidance for case management and additional measures to contact trace and prevent spread on campus.
We are monitoring the current number of monkeypox cases reported in Massachusetts and surrounding states (CDC case count map: https://www.cdc.gov/poxvirus/monkeypox/response/2022/us-map.html) As well as staying current with recommendations and guidance from the CDC https://www.cdc.gov/poxvirus/monkeypox/index.html and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH): https://www.mass.gov/monkeypox
Health Services staff are ensuring education material and updates are made available to the campus community, such as this FAQ. Students may schedule an appointment with a Health Services provider to consult on individual risk factors or concerns.
We understand that news of a new infectious disease on top of the last few years of the Covid-19 pandemic can be concerning and result in feelings of anxiety and uncertainty. Mental health resources are available for students through Counseling Services (https://annamaria.edu/campus-life/counseling-services/) and BetterMynd
While anyone can get infected with monkeypox, the current outbreak has disproportionally affected LGBTQIA+ communities and in particular men who have sex with men (MSM). Monkeypox is not a sexually transmitted infection, and it does not discriminate based on sexuality or gender identity. To put it simply, infectious diseases spread more quickly in smaller social networks. Monkeypox is a virus that spreads via clusters of people who engage in close, intimate contact. The pattern currently being seen where Monkeypox is spreading in a smaller, close community of people is consistent with typical viral spread.
It is important to avoid stigmatizing Monkeypox so people can accurately recognize their own risk factors. Presenting Monkeypox as affecting only a specific group of people gives individuals who don’t identify with that group a false sense of being unaffected and not needing to take precautions. Individuals with symptoms may also avoid or delay seeking treatment if they fear association with a stigmatized group.
All people who engage in close, intimate contact with others, including but not limited to sexual activity, are at risk and should implement precautions to protect themselves from Monkeypox. MSM need to be aware that there are higher rates of Monkeypox circulating in their social circles and their risk of exposure is currently greater than the non-MSM population.
If you do contract Monkeypox know that it is not your fault, and it is not a reflection of your personal identity, sexuality, or moral worth.
There are currently vaccines for Monkeypox, but supplies are extremely limited nationwide and public health officials have prioritized individuals who are the most at risk for exposure until more vaccine supplies become available.
AIDS Project Worcester https://www.aidsprojectworcester.org/monkeypox-and-vaccines/ is the closest clinic to Anna Maria that is providing Monkeypox vaccination by appointment for individuals who meet current MDPH eligibility requirements: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/monkeypox-vaccination#eligibility-
Monkeypox virus can spread from animals to people, and from people to animals. Individuals with monkeypox should avoid contact with animals, including pets, domestic animals, and wildlife until they are fully recovered.
If you are concerned that your pet has come in contact with Monkeypox virus, the CDC has helpful information on how to care for them and avoiding spreading it to other people or pets here: https://www.cdc.gov/poxvirus/monkeypox/specific-settings/pets-in-homes.html
Residential students with approved Assistance Animals on campus should notify Health Services or Residential Life and Housing right away if they are concerned about potential exposure of their animal. It may be necessary for an animal to be temporarily sent home during it or its caretaker’s isolation period.