Monkeypox is a disease caused by a pox-virus usually not commonly seen in the United States. However, monkeypox cases have recently been increasing in the United States. Cases in New Jersey and the New York metropolitan area are rapidly on the rise. College students, sexually active adults, those living in congregate settings and participating in social networks make these populations of concern.
Monmouth University is actively monitoring the situation and working with our public health partners to make necessary preparations in the event of cases and/or an outbreak. Many of the protocols we put into place for COVID-19, such as cleaning, disinfecting, contact tracing, isolation and quarantine are applicable to curtailing community transmission of the monkeypox virus.
It is important that every member of our community understand how the virus is spread, manifested, and what to do if exposed or symptomatic.
Monkeypox does not spread through casual contact; it has primarily been spread by intimate, skin-to-skin contact.
Monkeypox can spread to ANYONE. Although the current situation in the U.S. has initially involved populations of gay and bisexual men, monkeypox is not a “gay” disease and can affect anyone of any sexual orientation.
Here is how it can be spread:
- Direct contact with monkeypox rash, sores or scabs from a person with monkeypox.
- Contact with objects, fabrics (clothing, bedding or towels) and surfaces that have been used by someone with monkeypox.
- Contact with respiratory secretions, through kissing and other face-to-face contact.
Signs and Symptoms
People with monkeypox often have a rash located on or near genitals and could be in other areas like the hands, feet, chest, face or mouth.
The rash will go through several stages starting as pimples or blisters which can be painful or itchy, followed by scabbing before healing. Some people have just a few lesions while other have lesions more widely distributed.
Some people, not all, experience flu-like symptoms 1-4 days before the rash appears. Those symptoms may include fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes, exhaustion, muscle aches, headache, sore throat, congestion or cough.
Course of Illness
Monkeypox symptoms typically start within 3 weeks of exposure to the virus. Monkeypox can be spread from time symptoms start until the rash has fully healed, all scabs have fallen off and a fresh layer of skin has formed. The illness usually lasts 2-4 weeks. Medical clearance, submitted to Health Services, is needed to return to school or work and must meet clearance criteria set forth by the CDC.
What To Do If Exposed
- Notify Health Services ASAP.
- Monitor for symptoms for 21 days.
- Monmouth County Health Department or the county health department in which the person resides, will be notified and facilitate access to any vaccine supply. Vaccine supply at the present time is limited but expected to increase in the upcoming months.
- The JYNNEOS vaccine is a two-dose vaccine given 4 weeks apart. It is most effective in preventing monkeypox when given 1-4 days post exposure, but approved to be given up to 14 days post-exposure to reduce severity of outbreak.
What To Do If Symptomatic
Persons displaying symptoms of monkeypox should first self-isolate:
- Stay home/in room, do not attend class, work or other activities.
- Call Health Services ASAP or your primary care provider. If seeking assistance from outside medical resources, Health Services must still be notified.
- Viral testing occurs in accordance with guidance from public health agencies.
- If a residential student, call Residential Life.
- Monmouth County Health Department or the county health department in which the person resides, will be notified to facilitate securing an anti-viral medication. The medication, Tecovirimat (TPOXX) is being offered as part of clinical trial and requires monitoring and lab work.
- Anticipate duration of illness and isolation to last 2- 4 weeks.
We continue to strive for the Monmouth University campus community being educated on evolving situations. We will be reaching out to student and employee groups to increase awareness and ask for assistance in being health conscious and safety vigilant.