Monkeypox Updates

What is monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a rare contagious rash illness caused by the monkeypox virus.  Most people have mild illness and recover without treatment.  However, symptoms can be severe in some cases.

In 2022, a monkeypox outbreak began in many countries or areas where this infection is not usually found, including in the U.S. and in Virginia.  Visit the VDH and CDC websites for detailed information.

Who is at risk?

Anyone can get monkeypox, but the risk to the general public is low.  People who have sex with multiple or anonymous partners are currently at highest risk for being infected with monkeypox.

How is it spread?

Monkeypox is spread is by close contact with an infected person (including intimate or sexual contact, hugging, kissing, massage) or an infected object (such as clothing, towels, bedding, etc).  Though transmission may occur during prolonged face-to-face contact, monkeypox does not spread by talking casually with an infected person or walking by an infected person.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms typically begin 5-21 days after exposure.  Flu-like symptoms may precede the rash by a few days, or the rash may be the only symptom.  The rash can look like pimples or blisters and occur anywhere on the body, including the genitals and mouth area.  There may only be one lesion or there may be many.

What should I do if I have symptoms?

Isolate away from others (including pets), cover your lesions, and contact Student Health at 804-828-8828 or your medical provider.  Call ahead to let them know you’re concerned about monkeypox.  If you must be around others, wear a well-fitting face mask and cover your rash.

What should I do if I have been exposed?

Contact Student Health (804-828-8828) or your medical provider for guidance.  If you do not have symptoms and your exposure is determined to be low risk, you do not need to isolate but you should monitor for symptoms (rash, flu-like symptoms) for 21 days after the exposure.  Vaccine may be recommended for higher-risk exposures.

How can I prevent monkeypox?

The best preventive measure is to avoid having sex with multiple or anonymous partners.  Other measures include good hand washing and wearing a mask during lengthy or close face-to-face contact with someone who may be infected.  Avoid sharing utensils, cups, clothing, bedding, towels, etc.  Do not touch other people’s rashes or scabs.

Who is eligible for vaccine?

Currently, vaccine is only recommended for individuals at high risk for monkeypox exposure.  More information is available on the VDH website.