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Dear MCPHS Community,

We are closely monitoring the spread of the monkeypox virus in the United States. On August 4, the federal government declared the outbreak a public health emergency. Please know that we are communicating and coordinating with public health officials to plan for a number of scenarios and keep our Community safe.

As we move through the third year of the coronavirus pandemic, it is understandable that many people are weary, which can lead them to tune out health threats. However, we must remain vigilant. Monkeypox begins with flu-like signs and symptoms (e.g., fever, headache, sore throat, swollen lymph nodes) and progresses to a rash that can look like pimples or blisters. It is very painful but rarely fatal.

Luckily, the virus differs from COVID-19 in key ways that bode well for containment. Monkeypox is transmitted by symptomatic individuals through direct contact with rash lesions, scabs, or body fluids of infected individuals. The virus can also be spread through contact with items that touched the rash lesions or body fluids, or through large respiratory droplets following prolonged face-to-face contact.

Given the primary mode of transmission, it is unlikely that monkeypox will cause major disruptions to our academic programs and activities in the coming months. In the event of a monkeypox case on campus, we have isolation facilities available for students so we can prevent the virus from spreading. We will also continue with deep cleaning and upkeep of additional hand sanitizer stations that we started at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Government officials are currently working to ramp up monkeypox testing capacity and expand access to a vaccine for the virus.

We invite you to explore the following resources for more information about monkeypox and the government’s response to the outbreak:

For questions on monkeypox, Boston students should call Optum Health Services at 617.879.5220. Manchester and Worcester students should call their primary care physician. Employees should call their primary care physician.

We always follow the science—and recommendations from government agencies—when responding to public health threats. Our current understanding of the monkeypox outbreak supports vigilance yet optimism for our Community as we begin the academic year.

Richard J. Lessard, President
Caroline Zeind, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost

Monkeypox Frequently Asked Questions