Monkeypox

Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared monkeypox a public health emergency of international concern.

Health Services is closely monitoring this situation and is following the guidance of state and local agencies. We are in-touch with our Infectious Disease colleagues at Newton-Wellesley Hospital for the latest recommendations regarding diagnosis/testing, treatment, isolation etc. We are also working with Wellesley College leadership to maintain up to date policies and protocols to keep students and staff safe. 

We will continue to update this page as more information becomes available (as things are frequently changing)

If you have a rash or are experiencing monkeypox symptoms or have been exposed to someone with monkeypox, limit your contact with others, and contact Health Services for evaluation and further instructions (781-283-2810)

More information can be found on Mass General Brigham's Monkeypox webpage as well as the CDC's website

What are monkeypox symptoms?

The first symptoms of monkeypox usually include:

  • Fever/chills, headache, muscle aches, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, or respiratory symptoms (cough, nasal congestion, sore throat)

A few days later, a skin rash can appear

  • The rash often looks like pimples or blisters and may be painful or itchy.
  • It typically goes through several stabes, including scabbing over, before healing.
  • The rash may appear on or near the genitals/anus, but can also be seen on other areas of the body like the hands, feet, chest, or face.
  • The CDC has examples of some rashes on their website.

Remember: Each person is different.You may experience all or only a few symptomsNot everyone experiences every symptom, but most people with monkeypox will get a rash. 

  • Sometimes, people have flu-like symptoms before the rash.
  • Some people get a rash first, followed by other symptoms.
  • Others only experience a rash.
What do I do if I think I have symptoms of monkeypox?
  • Limit your contact with others.
  • Cover any exposed blisters/lesions.
  • Wear a mask around others. 
  • Contact Health Services (781-283-2810) ASAP to discuss your symptoms and next steps. 
How is monkeypox transmitted?

Monkeypox spreads through close, personal, often skin-to-skin contact including:

  • Direct contact with a monkeypox rash/scab or body fluids from a person with monkeypox. Direct contact can happen during intimate contact or sexual activity. 
  • Touching objects (including sex toys), fabrics (clothing, bedding, towels), and surfaces that have been previously touched by infectious rashes or body fluids. 
  • Respiratory secretions, as with prolonged face to face contact. 

 

Someone with monkeypox is contagious from THE TIME ANY SYMPTOMS BEGIN UNTIL THE RASH HAS HEALED, THE SCABS HAVE FALLEN OFF, AND A FRESH LAYER OF SKIN HAS FORMED! 

How can I keep myself healthy and reduce transmission?

Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash that looks like monkeypox. Avoid sexually activity if your partner has rashes/bumps in their genital area.

  • Do not touch the rash or scabs of a person with monkeypox
  • Do not kiss, hug, cuddle or have sex with someone with monkeypox

Avoid contact with objects or materials that someone with monkeypox has used 

  • Do not touch the rash or scabs of a person with monkeypox
  • Do not kiss, hug, cuddle or have sex with someone with monkeypox.

Wash your hands frequently

How soon after I am exposed will symptoms appear?

Typically symptoms appear 7-14 days following a monkeypox exposure

  • There is a range of 5-21 days
What do I do if I think I was exposed to monkeypox?

Try not to panic! 

Contact Health Services (781-283-2810) immediately for an assessment. 

As long as you do not have symptoms, you do not need to quarantine after being exposed. However, you need to closely monitor your symptoms for a full 21 days after exposure. 

  • If you begin to feel sick of feverish (temperature >100.4F (38C) or higher, rash, enlarged lymph nodes, chills), contact Health Services ASAP and self-isolate in the meantime
  • If you do not have any symptoms, you may continue daily activities like going to work or school. 

 

Is there a vaccine for monkeypox?

There is a vaccine for monkeypox, called the JYNNEOS vaccine (or Imvamune/Imvanex). The vaccine is for people who have been exposed to monkeypox. It is not available for the general population to prevent monkeypox (like many other vaccines). 

You must meet certain eligibility criteria in order to qualify for the vaccine. Please contact Health Services if you think you have been exposed to monkeypox so we can help determine if you are eligible for vaccination and get you vaccinated. 

There is currently a limited supply of vaccine and so it is being prioritized for individuals at highest risk of exposure and complications. 

What is the treatment for monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a viral illness (like the flu, COVID, common cold).

Most people have a mild disease course that does not require treatment other than supportive care. 

If you test positive, you will be required to isolate in order to avoid spreading monkeypox to others. You must isolate until all the skin lesions have resolved, the scabs have fallen off, and a fresh layer of intact skin has formed. This can take weeks to happen. 

Antiviral medications may be recommended if you have severe disease or are more likely to get very ill. Health Services (in conjunction with our Infectious Disease colleagues) can determine if you meet criteria for antiviral treatment.  

 

How is monkeypox diagnosed?

A provider will swab a blister or skin lesion to collect a sample. Monkeypox is diagnosed through special testing of this sample in a designated lab. 

  • Contact Health Services (781 283 2810) as your first step if you believe you may have monkeypox. We will help facilitate testing and diagnosis.