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Monkeypox: What you need to know

General Information

Alverno is working closely with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) and the Milwaukee Health Department to monitor the current monkeypox outbreak. While this outbreak is very different from the coronavirus pandemic, university officials and public health leaders have learned many lessons over the past two years to prevent the spread of infectious disease to keep students and staff safe.

Although monkeypox is a viral infection, it does not spread easily to others and is significantly less contagious than COVID-19. Most people with monkeypox report having prolonged close contact, including kissing, hugging, and sexual activity with someone else who has monkeypox. Monkeypox can also spread through respiratory droplets and by having contact with items that have been contaminated with the fluids or sores of a person with monkeypox (e.g., bedding, towels, toothbrushes).

We want students to know that the risk of monkeypox spreading widely throughout Alverno remains low. While most cases are occurring in the sexual network of gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men, we want to reiterate that monkeypox can affect anyone. All students should be aware of the signs and symptoms of monkeypox and contact Health Services or a doctor if they develop a new or unexplained rash.  A student may reach Health Services at 414-382-6319 for a phone consultation, however, Alverno would require an official diagnosis from the student's doctor.

Anyone who has direct contract with an infected person can become sick with monkeypox. Again, a person’s sexuality and sexual orientation is not the route of transmission. Blaming one community as the cause of any disease harms public health efforts and reinforces stigma and discrimination.

To maintain the health and wellbeing of the Alverno community, we will work together with state and local public health officials to combat the monkeypox outbreak. If you have any questions, please call Health Services at 414-382-6319.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a rare but potentially serious viral illness. The monkeypox virus is from the same family of viruses as the smallpox virus. Monkeypox symptoms are similar to smallpox symptoms but are less severe. It is also less transmissible than smallpox and rarely fatal. Since May 14, 2022, monkeypox has been spreading from person to person in countries where the virus is usually not found, including the United States.

What are the symptoms of monkeypox?
Monkeypox is typically characterized by a new, unexplained rash that develops into characteristic hard, round, fluid- or pus-filled skin lesions. Other early symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Muscle aches
  • Headache

The monkeypox rash develops within one to three days after fever. However, some people may experience a rash or sores first, followed by other symptoms. Some people may also only develop a rash. Symptoms usually last 2-4 weeks.

Is monkeypox deadly?

The type of monkeypox virus currently spreading is rarely fatal. It is estimated that over 99% of people who become infected with this type of monkeypox virus will survive. However, people with a weakened immune system, history of eczema, people who are pregnant or breastfeeding, and children under 8 years old may be at a higher risk for experiencing severe disease and death.

What should I do if I have symptoms?

It is important for anyone experiencing a new, unexplained rash to notify a doctor. Students should call Health Services at 414-382-6319 or their regular health care provider. If possible, call ahead before going to a health care facility and notify them that you are concerned about monkeypox. If you have monkeypox symptoms, talk with a healthcare provider, ask about getting tested for monkeypox, isolate at home, and avoid close physical contact until a health care provider can examine you. If you need assistance finding a free or low-cost health care provider, you are encouraged to call 211 or visit https://211wisconsin.communityos.org/ for support.

What should I do if I test positive for monkeypox?

If you test positive for monkeypox, stay isolated away from others and avoid intimate contact (kissing, touching, any kind of sex) while you are having symptoms. Do not share objects like bedding, towels, clothing or utensils with others while you have symptoms. Cover all parts of any rash. Wear a well-fitting mask around others until the rash and all other symptoms have resolved. Wash or disinfect any items that came in contact with bodily fluids or a lesion. If possible, do not share a bathroom with others. Wash hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially after direct contact with the rash. Stay home until any rash has fully resolved, the scabs have fallen off, and a fresh layer of skin has formed.

Students living within the residence halls should contact Residence Life to arrange for isolation (in the case of a positive diagnosis) if they have not made arrangements to isolate off campus.

How can I prevent monkeypox?

Most people with monkeypox report having prolonged close contact with someone with monkeypox. Monkeypox is unlikely to spread through the air over long distances because the virus is not known to linger in the air. To protect yourself from monkeypox, take the following actions:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Ask your sexual partner(s) if they have a rash or other monkeypox related symptoms.
  • Avoid skin-to-skin contact, including sex and intimate contact, with someone who has a rash or other symptoms.
  • Consider how much close, skin-to-skin contact is likely to occur at the event you plan to attend.
  • Do not share objects like bedding, towels, clothing, cups or utensils with someone with monkeypox.

What should I do if I had contact with someone who has monkeypox?

If you were exposed to monkeypox, monitor for symptoms for 21 days after your date of last exposure. It is important to check your temperature two times per day during your monitoring period. If symptoms begin, contact a doctor immediately and isolate away from others. You can continue daily activities, like going to work or school, if you do not develop any new symptoms. If your partner has monkeypox, avoid sex or being intimate until all sores have healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed. Remember to wash any bedding, towels, or clothing that have had contact with the infectious rash or body fluids.

Standard household cleaning products and EPA-registered disinfectants should be used to wash any surfaces that have been touched by someone with monkeypox. People who have been exposed to someone with monkeypox may be eligible to receive a vaccine to help prevent the onset of disease or reduce the severity of symptoms. See “Is there a vaccine available?” below.

How is monkeypox treated?

Most people who have monkeypox recover without needing treatment within 2-4 weeks. While there is no specific treatment for monkeypox, antiviral medications that have been used to treat smallpox can also be used.

What vaccines are available in the US to prevent monkeypox?

Two smallpox vaccines licensed by the FDA are available to prevent monkeypox: JYNNEOS, also known as Imvamune or Imvanex, and ACAM2000.

Am I eligible to get vaccinated?

Due to a limited vaccine supply, DHS is currently following the federal government’s recommendation to prioritize the JYNNEOS vaccine for individuals at the highest risk of infection.

In Wisconsin,vaccination is now recommended for people who had known exposure to someone with monkeypox and people with certain risk factors who are more likely to be exposed to the virus. This includes:

  • People who know that a sexual partner in the past 14 days was diagnosed with monkeypox.
  • People who attended an event or venue where there was known monkeypox exposure.
  • Gay men, bisexual men, trans men and women, any men who have sex with men, and gender non-conforming/non-binary individuals, who have had multiple sexual partners in the last 14 days.

As the outbreak changes and more vaccine becomes available, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services will update the eligibility requirements.

Where can I go to make a vaccination appointment?
The JYNNEOS vaccine is currently only available by appointment at designated health care locations. Please visit the WI Department of Health Services website to see a list of locations accepting appointments. If you are eligible for JYNNEOS and unable to make an appointment, your local health department can assist with connecting you to a monkeypox vaccinator.

Where can I get additional information?
Milwaukee Health Department – Monkeypox 2022
Wisconsin Department of Health Services
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Monkeypox
Monkeypox: What College Students Need to Know

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