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Monkeypox FAQs

Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus, and is currently circulating in the United States and globally. The disease may be painful but is rarely fatal.

  • Monkeypox can spread from person to person through direct contact with the infectious rash, scabs, or body fluids.
  • Respiratory secretions also can spread it during prolonged, face-to-face contact, or during intimate physical contact, such as kissing, cuddling, or sex.
  • Sharing objects (touching surfaces, sharing towels etc) that an infected person has used.
  • Monkeypox can spread from the time symptoms (fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes, rash) start until the rash has fully healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed.
  • Although the current monkeypox outbreak, is spreading primarily through close personal contact and not from exposure to infected animals like previous outbreaks. Any close, sustained skin-to-skin contact with someone who has monkeypox can spread the virus. The contact does not have to be exclusively intimate or sexual.
  • Anyone in close personal contact with a person with monkeypox can get it and should take steps to protect themselves.
  • The virus does not spread through a casual interactions like hugging in those not infected.

Symptoms of monkeypox can include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches and backache
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Chills
  • Respiratory symptoms (e.g. sore throat, nasal congestion, or cough)
  • A rash that can look like pimples or blisters that appears on the face, inside the mouth, and on other parts of the body.
  • The rash goes through different stages before healing completely. The illness typically lasts 2-4 weeks.
  • Sometimes, people get a rash first, followed by other symptoms. Others only experience a rash.
  • See a healthcare provider if you notice a new or unexplained rash or other monkeypox symptoms (fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes).
    • Boston Students contact Optum Student Health at 617.879.5220  (Monday through Friday 9am to 6pm)
    • Worcester and Manchester Students contact your primary care physician (PCP) or a local urgent care if you do not have a PCP to inquire about testing and evaluation.
    • Faculty and Staff contact your primary care physician or a local urgent care if you do not have a PCP to inquire about testing and evaluation.
    • Avoid close contact (including intimate physical contact) with others until you see a healthcare provider.
    • Avoid close contact with pets or other animals until you see a healthcare provider.
    • Avoid use of contact lenses to prevent inadvertent infection of the eye if you have a rash.
    • Avoid shaving rash-covered areas of the body as this can lead to spread of the virus.
  • Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash that looks like monkeypox.
  • Avoid contact with objects and materials that a person with monkeypox has used such as their linens, towels or clothing.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (must contain at least 60% alcohol), especially before eating or touching your face and after you use the bathroom.
  • Wearing a well-fitted mask and/or gloves when caring for someone with monkeypox or have symptoms of monkeypox
  • Limiting your number of sex partners may reduce your exposure risk. Learn about monkeypox and sexual health here.
  • Current testing guidelines require a rash to be present for a test to be performed.
  • If your test result is positive, stay isolated until your rash has healed, all scabs have fallen off, and a fresh layer of intact skin has formed. This may take 2-4 weeks.
  • Remain isolated if you have a fever, sore throat, nasal congestion, or cough. Only go out to see a healthcare provider or for an emergency.
  • Avoid public transportation, or other transportation methods such as Uber or Lyft, air travel. Using your own car is permissible to see a healthcare provider.
  • If you must leave isolation, cover the rash (with long sleeve shirt, long pants, bandages) and wear a well-fitting mask.
  • If you live off campus and you test positive for monkeypox, you must isolate in your home, preferably in a private bedroom with separate bathroom, and not attend classes or work while infectious.
  • If you live on campus, MCPHS Student ResLife and Students Affairs will work with you to manage your isolation and not attend classes or work while infectious.
    • Please note multiple people with a monkeypox diagnosis may share a common space.
  • Some may experience mild illness that does not require treatment. Antivirals, such as tecovirimat (TPOXX), may be recommended for people who are more likely to get severely ill, like patients with weakened immune systems.
  • A person with monkeypox must isolate: preferably in their own bedroom with a separate bathroom.
  • Cleaning of areas:
    • Avoid activities that could spread dried material from lesions (e.g., use of fans, dry dusting, sweeping, or vacuuming) in the isolation areas.
    • Linens can be laundered using regular detergent and warm water.
    • Soiled laundry should be gently and promptly contained in a laundry bag and never be shaken or handled in a manner that may disperse infectious material.
    • Covering mattresses in isolation areas (e.g. with sheets, blankets, or a plastic cover) can facilitate easier laundering.
    • If there is not a separate bathroom, an infected person should clean and disinfect surfaces such as counters, toilet seats, faucets, using an EPA-registered disinfectant (such as List Q) after using a shared space.
      • This may include activities like showering, using the toilet, or changing bandages that cover the rash.
      • Consider using disposable gloves while cleaning if rash is present on the hands.
  • Do not share dishes and other eating utensils. It is not necessary for the infected person to use separate utensils if properly washed. Wash soiled dishes and eating utensils in a dishwasher or by hand with warm water and soap.
  • Try to avoid contaminating upholstered furniture and other porous materials that cannot be laundered by placing coversheets, waterproof mattress covers, blankets, or tarps over these surfaces.
  • Yes.
  • If you are at increased risk of contracting monkeypox, the JYNNEOS vaccine is available via the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) or New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (NH DHHS).
  • The vaccine is administered in two doses, 28 days (about 4 weeks) apart. Currently a limited supply of the vaccine may cause delays in administering the second dose.
  • You are not considered fully vaccinated until two weeks after the second dose and must take precautions until that time.
  • In order to obtain the vaccine, a health care provider will need to perform a risk and exposure assessment. Once the provider confirms your eligibility, you can make your own appointment.
  • The vaccine is only available in state sponsored locations; it is not available in pharmacies.
  • Please be aware that there is currently a limited supply of JYNNEOS. Vaccination, priority is given to those individuals at the highest risk of exposure to monkeypox.
  • No, the CDC does not recommend widespread vaccination against monkeypox at this time.
  • During this outbreak, people who are sexually active are not considered to be at risk for monkeypox unless their sexual partners have monkeypox or they have had multiple sexual partners within the past 14 days in areas where monkeypox cases have been reported.