Monkeypox is a legitimate public health concern that is relevant to all people. Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. Monkeypox is part of the same family of viruses that cause smallpox, and is not related to chickenpox. Monkeypox symptoms are similar to smallpox symptoms, but milder, and monkeypox is rarely fatal.
Monkeypox was discovered in 1958 when two outbreaks of a pox-like disease occurred in colonies of monkeys kept for research. Despite being named “monkeypox,” the source of the disease remains unknown.
Signs and Symptoms
Some people with monkeypox may get a rash on various parts of the body.
- The rash will go through several stages, including scabs, before healing
- The rash can initially look like pimples or blisters and may be painful or itchy
Some people with monkeypox may also experience symptoms like the flu, with fever, low energy, swollen lymph nodes, and general body aches. They may also be limited to one part of the body. People with monkeypox may experience all or only a few of these symptoms
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.
Monkeypox 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 2-4 weeks.
What to do if you have had an exposure or symptoms?
Students should report a positive monkeypox test/diagnosis by clicking here. A member of the CSUF Health Services clinical team will contact impacted students with self-isolation and “return to campus” instructions. The self-isolation period depends on symptomology and healing process. Typically, people with monkeypox should anticipate self-isolating for 14-21 days.
If you have had an exposure, have symptoms you are concerned about, or need to speak with someone about your risk, please reach out to your primary care provider. Students can schedule appointments with a Health Services provider M-F through their Titan Health Portal or by calling 657-278-2800.
- Student Wellness providers have been updated in identifying and treating monkeypox
- The Student Wellness Laboratory is prepared to collect and send samples for testing
Additionally, it’s important to notify your close contacts that they may have been exposed to monkeypox as soon as possible. If you are unable to notify your close contacts, CSUF Health Services or your local health department may be able to help you without disclosing your information. A close contact is anyone, since the start of your monkeypox symptoms that you:
- Have had sex with; this includes oral, anal, and vaginal sex
- Have hugged, cuddled, or kissed
- Shared cups, utensils, towels, clothing, bedding, blankets, or other objects and materials with
- Have touched or who came in contact with the rash on your body
How is Monkeypox spread?
Monkeypox spreads in a few ways. A person with monkeypox can spread it to others from the time symptoms start until the rash has fully healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed. The illness typically lasts 2-4 weeks.
- Monkeypox can spread to anyone (regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation) through close, personal, often skin-to-skin contact, including:
- Direct contact with monkeypox rash, scabs, or body fluids from a person with monkeypox
- Touching objects, fabrics (clothing, bedding, or towels), and surfaces that have been used by someone with monkeypox
- Contact with respiratory secretions
- This direct contact can happen during intimate contact, including:
- Oral, anal, and vaginal sex or touching the genitals (penis, testicles, labia, and vagina) or anus (butthole) of a person with monkeypox
- Hugging, massage, and kissing
- Prolonged face-to-face contact
- Touching fabrics and objects during sex that were used by a person with monkeypox and that have not been disinfected, such as bedding, towels, fetish gear, and sex toys
- A pregnant person can spread the virus to their fetus through the placenta
Monkeypox is NOT spread through casual, brief conversations or walking by someone with monkeypox, like in a hallway or grocery store.
Is Monkeypox a sexually transmitted infection (STI)?
Monkeypox may look like sexually transmitted infections that cause a rash on the genitals and anus, including herpes and syphilis. Monkeypox may also cause rectal pain, which can be seen in other STIs as well. Scientists are investigating whether the virus could be spread by exposure to semen or vaginal fluids, but this has not been previously known to be how the virus spreads. It's always important to talk to a health care provider as soon as you notice unusual rashes or sores or have rectal pain.
There are number of ways to prevent the spread of monkeypox, including:
1. Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash that looks like monkeypox.
- Do not touch the rash or scabs of a person with monkeypox
- Do not kiss, hug, cuddle or have sex with someone with monkeypox
2. Avoid contact with objects and materials that a person with monkeypox has used.
- Do not share eating utensils or cups with a person with monkeypox
- Do not handle or touch the bedding, towels, or clothing of a person with monkeypox
3. Wash your hands often.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially before eating or touching your face and after you use the bathroom
CDC recommends vaccination for people who have been exposed to monkeypox and people who may be more likely to get monkeypox.
People more likely to get monkeypox include:
- People who have been identified by public health officials as a contact of someone with monkeypox
- People who are aware that one of their sexual partners in the past 2 weeks has been diagnosed with monkeypox
- People who had multiple sexual partners in the past 2 weeks in an area with known monkeypox
- People whose jobs may expose them to orthopoxviruses , such as:
- Laboratory workers who perform testing for orthopoxviruses
- Laboratory workers who handle cultures or animals with orthopoxviruses
- Some designated healthcare or public health workers
Vaccination helps to protect against monkeypox when given before or shortly after an exposure. In the United States, JYNNEOS and ACAM2000 are two monkeypox vaccines currently available via the Strategic National Stockpile. At this time, the federal government has allocated a limited number of JYNNEOS vaccine doses to California.
In Orange County, the Orange County Health Care Agency is making vaccine available to those identified at highest risk and appointments can be scheduled at the Othena website . As vaccine supply is very limited, the Health Care Agency suggests that people check back daily on the Othena website for appointment availability. If you are not currently in Orange County, check with your local health department for vaccine availability. CSUF Health Services is not currently a provider of the monkeypox vaccine.
There are no treatments specifically for monkeypox virus infections. However, monkeypox and smallpox viruses are genetically similar, which means that antiviral drugs and vaccines developed to protect against smallpox may be used to prevent and treat monkeypox virus infections.
Antivirals, such as tecovirimat (TPOXX), may be recommended for people who are more likely to get severely ill, like patients with weakened immune systems.
If you have symptoms of monkeypox , you should talk to your healthcare provider, even if you don’t think you had contact with someone who has monkeypox.
Most people with monkeypox recover fully within 2 to 4 weeks without the need for medical treatment.
Monkeypox Resources and Updates
We are working closely with the Orange County Health Care Agency to keep the campus prepared, informed and healthy. For more information about Monkeypox:
- Orange County Health Care Agency
- California Department of Public Health
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- California Department of Public Health Q&A
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. Campus mental health resources are available through Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) and You@Fullerton.