Monkeypox Information and Resources
What is monkeypox?
Monkeypox is a disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. While monkeypox can be very painful, it is rarely fatal. The World Health Organization, United States Department of Health and Human Services, and Austin Public Health have declared monkeypox a public health emergency. Austin Public Health tracks cases of monkeypox in Travis County, with the dashboard updating weekly on Thursdays. Just as we have seen with other communicable diseases, we expect campus to mirror the community with the incidence of this virus.
How is monkeypox spread?
Monkeypox does not spread easily. It is most commonly transmitted through close, personal, often skin-to-skin contact with infected people or animals. It can also be spread through contact with objects, fabrics (clothing, bedding, or towels), and surfaces that have been used by someone with monkeypox. It can also be spread via respiratory secretions or oral fluids from a person with monkeypox during prolonged face-to-face contact or during intimate physical contact; however, it does not linger in the air and is not thought to be transmitted during short periods of shared air space.
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. Scientists are still researching if the virus can be spread when someone has no symptoms.
What are the symptoms of monkeypox?
A rash or sores, sometimes located on hands, feet, chest, face, around the genitals, or inside the body. Other symptoms of monkeypox can include, fever, headache, muscle aches and backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills, and fatigue. Sometimes these symptoms occur before the onset of the characteristic rash or sores.
Who can get monkeypox?
Anyone can get monkeypox, regardless of age, gender identity or sexual orientation.
What precautions should one follow to prevent monkeypox?
Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash that looks like monkeypox.
Do not share bedding, towels, clothing, utensils, or cups with a person with monkeypox.
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.
Although monkeypox is not a sexually transmitted infection, it can be spread through sexual contact. The CDC offers additional tips on preventing monkeypox through safer sex and safer social gatherings.
What should I do if I think I have monkeypox?
If you are a TSD student or staff and have a new or unexplained rash or other symptoms of monkeypox, contact the TSD Health Center (VP) 512-410-1024, (voice) 512-462-5686.
If you think you have monkeypox, cover all parts of the rash with clothing, gloves, or bandages, and wear a mask until you can see a healthcare provider. Remember to:
- Avoid touching anyone until you have been to the doctor.
- If your test result is positive, follow your healthcare provider’s recommendations for isolation and care.
- Wash your hands often and try not to touch your eyes.
- If you wear contact lenses, wear glasses instead, if possible, to avoid infecting your eyes.
Is there a vaccine for monkeypox?
Yes. The CDC recommends vaccination for people who have been exposed to monkeypox and people who may be more likely to get monkeypox. In Austin, vaccination is currently only available through Austin Public Health for individuals who meet the criteria.
To determine eligibility for receiving the vaccine, you can visit Wellness Equity Alliance’s website. Those who qualify for the vaccine will be given an option to schedule an appointment. NOTE: Emails will be sent from a Wellness Equity Alliance account (@wellnessequityalliance.com).
Vaccination information is also available on APH’s monkeypox webpage. Those who need assistance can call the APH Equity Line at 512-972-5560.
What is TSD doing to mitigate risk?
TSD has a longstanding practice of prioritizing the public health of its students, staff, and community by implementing mitigation protocols when faced with known or emerging communicable diseases. We collaborate on strategies needed to reduce the incidence or spread within our population. Monkeypox will be handled as we would most other communicable illnesses with similar modes of transmission. TSD:
- Continues to build upon our strong relationships with state and local health departments and aligns to the extent possible with guidance from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention for reducing monkeypox transmission in congregate settings
- Provides education to the community on monkeypox and how to prevent it
- Provides medical services to students by clinicians trained to identify monkeypox, along with what protocols to follow if a patient tests positive
- Coordinates with Austin Public Health for contact tracing and vaccines
- Assists members of the community in managing isolation and academic impacts, if needed
- Assesses decontamination needs if a student or staff tests positive.
What role does stigma play in this outbreak?
Presumed origins and communities who experience early impact from a communicable disease can influence stigmatization. Among many concerns, stigma can:
- hamper help-seeking amongst stigmatized communities
- lead non-stigmatized communities to ignore preventative advice under the mistaken presumption that they are not vulnerable to the disease
- exacerbate discrimination
- deteriorate mental health
Eliminating stigma is the only way to ensure that patients receive the care they need.
Where can I learn more?
For more information about monkeypox, please visit the FAQ page provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Additionally, Austin Public Health has a dedicated nurse-line for questions about monkeypox: 512-972-5560.