Monkeypox

Updated 8/23/22

Carleton Student Health and Counseling (SHAC) is monitoring the outbreaks of Monkeypox (MPX) cases that have led to MPX being declared a public health emergency by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Although US cases continue to rise, overall risk of acquiring MPX is still quite low. The situation is evolving rapidly, and we will make efforts to keep this page up to date.

What are the symptoms?*

With this outbreak, people are primarily seeing a rash on or near their genitals, anus, or mouth. Lesions could also appear on the hands, feet or chest. Some people may experience fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes, fatigue, muscle aches, and headache, however not everyone does. 

  • The rash can range from just one to many lesions.
  • Lesions may start like pimples and progress to blisters and scabs.
  • Lesions may be itchy or painful.

Symptoms may start anywhere from 3 days to 3 weeks after exposure to someone with monkeypox.

*See CDC for most up-to-date information.

How does it spread?

Monkeypox requires close, personal, or intimate contact in order to spread. Examples include:

  • Direct contact with the rash or body fluids of someone who has monkeypox.
    • This can be through hugging, massage, kissing, or oral, anal or vaginal sex. It could also be through skin-to-skin contact with someone with monkeypox in a crowded setting.
  • Very close contact with respiratory droplets of someone who has monkeypox (think: cuddling or kissing or prolonged face to face time).
  • Less likely, through touching fabrics or surfaces that have been in contact with someone with monkeypox.

Monkeypox does NOT spread through:

  • Casual conversations
  • Walking by someone with monkeypox

Importantly, monkeypox is NOT a sexually transmitted infection, and it does not discriminate based on identity. As of August, the 2022 outbreak has been spreading mostly via close sexual contact among tight-knit communities, however it can spread with any skin-to-skin contact.

How do you prevent the spread of MPX?

  • Always talk to sexual partners about any recent illness and be aware of any new or unexplained rashes on your body or your partner’s body.
  • Avoiding close physical or prolonged contact with people with symptoms like sores or rashes on their body.
  • Practice good hand hygiene.
  • Wear a mask when sick.
  • If you are infected, isolate until your symptoms have improved or resolved. When scabs form, rash should no longer be contagious. Rash should always be well covered until it is completely healed.
  • Cover skin when in crowded settings where physical contact with others is likely.
  • Use appropriate personal protective equipment (gown, mask, gloves) when caring for others with symptoms.

What should you do if exposed to MPX or experiencing symptoms?

  • Contact a healthcare provider as soon as possible to let them know of your exposure or symptoms. The healthcare provider can provide testing and care. 
    • SHAC does have access to testing for MPX through the Laboratory Corporation of America (LabCorp), it is wise to find out now if LabCorp is in your insurance network.
    • If testing is done, isolate until results are known. If positive, your clinician will help you determine the length of time you will need to isolate.
  • Vaccines are recommended for those with known exposure. As of August 23, 2022, they are in limited supply, but public health departments are good resources to find where they may be available.

Helpful resources:

Monkeypox (MDH)

Six Ways We Can Have Safer Sex in the Time of Monkeypox

Monkeypox Prevention (CDC)

Fact Sheet (IDSA)