We are monitoring local, regional and national public health information and have developed plans to identify, manage and monitor cases should they occur on campus. Below we have provided general information about this virus and how it may apply to our community. We encourage you to familiarize yourself with the facts about monkeypox and take steps to prevent its spread.
What is monkeypox?
Monkeypox has been declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organization (WHO). Monkeypox is a viral infection that was first identified in the 1950s. While monkeypox is related to the smallpox virus and exhibits similar symptoms, the symptoms of monkeypox are milder and monkeypox is very rarely fatal.
There have been few, small outbreaks reported worldwide and in the United States since that time. In 2022, there have been more than 30,000 cases worldwide with more than one-third of those reported in the United States, as of mid-August 2022. There have been less than 200 cases reported in Massachusetts.
What are the symptoms of monkeypox?
Monkeypox causes symptoms that range from “unpleasant to painful”. People with monkeypox may experience flu-like symptoms such as fever, cold symptoms, body aches, fatigue, headaches and chills. Almost all people with monkeypox will get a rash, but the rash can appear before or after the flu-like symptoms. Some people will have a rash without any other symptoms. The rash of monkeypox can initially look like pimples or blisters and may be painful or itchy. It will go through several stages, including scabs, before healing. The full course of the illness typically lasts 2-4 weeks.
How contagious is monkeypox?
Compared to COVID, the common cold, or flu, monkeypox is much less transmissible. Contracting the virus requires direct and prolonged contact with bodily-fluids infected with monkeypox or active lesions from someone infected. While the media has largely focused on sexual transmission as the likely source of spread for this virus, there are other forms of transmission, including direct contact with infectious rashes, scabs, or body fluids and touching linens and clothing previously touched by infectious rashes or body fluids. Monkeypox is not airborne and cannot be contracted by breathing in respiratory droplets. A person infected with monkeypox is contagious until the rash has healed, all scabs have fallen off, and a fresh layer of skin has formed.
How can you reduce your risk and prevent spread?
- Avoid close contact, including sexual contact, with people who are sick or have a rash, and avoid their household/contaminated items.
- Decrease the number of sexual and/or intimate contact partners.
- Avoid gatherings where people wear minimal clothing and have direct, intimate, skin-to-skin contact.
- Be mindful of activities, such as kissing, sharing drinks and eating utensils, that might increase the risk of spreading monkeypox whenever you gather with others.
When and who should I contact?
- Residential Students: If you have been exposed to a person known to have monkeypox and/or develop a new rash with flu-like illness, please call the Norton Medical Center at 508-285-9500
- Employees and non-residential students: If you have been exposed to a person known to have monkeypox and/or develop a new rash with flu-like illness, notify your primary care provider of your exposure.
If You Are Diagnosed With Monkeypox:
You must isolate yourself and should not attend work, classes, or other in-person activities. Discuss possible treatment options and the duration of isolation with your healthcare provider.
If you need to miss school or work due to illness or isolation, we encourage you to take good care of yourself, your health, and your well-being. You do not need to disclose your diagnosis to your instructors or supervisors.
- Students: If you need to miss class, let your course instructors know that you will be absent and follow Wheaton’s policy for excused absences.
- Employees: Communicate with your manager that you will miss work.
Medical information must be treated with great care and confidentiality. Managers, instructors, and other community members who become aware of a case or suspected case should remember to respect the medical privacy of all students and employees.
Student Health Services, Norton Medical Center, and local boards of health will all carry out their responsibilities to ensure that appropriate contact tracing and environmental disinfection take place as needed.
Is there a monkeypox vaccine?
Yes. Originally approved for adults, the vaccine was recently granted EUA approval for individuals younger than 18 years old as well. At this time, the CDC only recommends vaccines for people who have been exposed to monkeypox and people who may be more likely to get monkeypox, including:
- People who have been identified by public health officials as a contact of someone with monkeypox
- People who know 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
For more information, please visit the CDC website on Monkeypox Signs and Symptoms.
We will continue to monitor state and local data on this and all public health matters and draw from our previous experiences to guide our decisions.
How to obtain the Monkeypox vaccine?
Administration of JYNNEOS will be by appointment only at one of the designated health care locations listed below after completion of risk exposure assessment by your healthcare provider:
- Fenway Health: Appointments can be made by calling 617-927-6060 Monday through Friday between 9 AM and 5 PM
- Massachusetts General Hospital Sexual Health Clinic: Appointments can be made by calling 617-726-2748 Monday through Friday between 8 AM and 4:30 PM
- Boston Medical Center: Appointments can be made by calling 617-414-2803 Monday through Friday between 9 AM and 5 PM
- East Boston Neighborhood Health Center: Appointments can be made by calling 617-568-4500 Monday through Friday between 8 AM and 5 PM. This site also offers vaccine appointments on Saturdays between 10 AM and 2 PM
- Codman Square Community Health Center: Please register for an appointment online. Appointments can also be made by calling 617-825-9660 Monday through Friday between 8:30 AM and 8:30 PM. This site also offers vaccine appointments on Saturday between 9 AM and 3 PM
- Cambridge Health Alliance (Cambridge/Somerville): Appointments can be made by calling 781-338-0104 Monday through Friday between 9 AM and 5 PM
- Outer Cape Cod Health Services: Appointments can be made by calling 508-905-2888 Monday through Friday between 8 AM and 5 PM
- JRI Health, Framingham: Register for an appointment directly with JRI Health. Appointments can also be made by calling 508-935-2960 Mondays and Fridays between 8 AM and 4 PM and Tuesday through Thursdays between 8 AM and 6:30 PM
- Baystate Medical Center Brightwood Health Center, Springfield: Appointments can be made by calling 413-794-4458 Monday through Friday between 8 AM and 5 PM
- Tapestry Health, Springfield: Appointments can be made by calling 413-586-2016, extension 121, Monday through Friday between 8 AM and 4 PM
- AIDS Project Worcester and University of Massachusetts Medical Center, Worchester: Appointments can be made by calling 508-755-3773, extension 113, Monday through Friday between 9 AM and 5 PM
North of Boston
- Greater Lawrence Family Health Center, Lawrence: Appointments can be made by calling 978-557-2319 Monday through Friday from 8 AM to 4 PM
South of Boston
- Health Innovations, Randolph: Appointments can be made by calling 339-987-1956 Monday through Friday between 10 AM and 5 PM
- Seven Hills Behavioral Health, New Bedford: Appointments can be made by calling 774-634-3725 Monday through Friday between 9 AM and 5 PM”