What Is Monkeypox (also known as MPX)?
Monkeypox (MPX) virus is a public health issue that is relevant to all people. It is a viral infection caused by the pox virus MPX virus which is related to the smallpox virus. It can affect anyone, it is not new (identified in 1958), and it is rare in the general population. While generally less severe and much less contagious than smallpox, monkeypox can be a serious illness. It spreads from infected humans, animals, and materials contaminated with the virus but primarily through close, personal, often skin-to-skin contact with people who have MPX virus symptoms, such as rash and sores. It is not classified as a sexually transmitted infection. It is not currently clear if the MPX virus is transmitted from someone with the MPX virus who does not have symptoms.
As of August 22, 2022 there are 420 confirmed or probable cases in New Jersey.
Monkeypox/MPX virus can be spread through:
- Direct sustained skin-to-skin contact with other people who are infected with the virus
- Sexual/intimate contact, including kissing
- Sharing a bed with someone who is infected
- Sharing unwashed towels or clothing which have been used by someone with the MPX virus
- Respiratory secretions through prolonged face-to-face interactions. This type of exposure mainly happens when living with someone or caring for someone who has a MPX virus infection.
Monkeypox/MPX virus is NOT spread through:
- Casual conversations
- Walking by someone with the MPX virus, like in a grocery store
Not enough information is known about these situations:
- Contact with people who are infected with the MPX virus but have no symptoms
- Contact with semen or vaginal fluids.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Monkeypox/MPX Virus?
Monkeypox (MPX) virus might start with symptoms like the flu, with fever, low energy, swollen lymph nodes, and general body aches. Within 1 to 3 days (sometimes longer) after the appearance of fever, the person can develop a rash or sores. The sores will go through several stages, including scabs, before healing. They can look like pimples or blisters and may be painful and itchy.
People with the MPX virus may experience all or only a few of these symptoms. Most with the MPX virus will develop the rash or sores. Some people have reported developing a rash or sores before (or without) the flu-like symptoms. The MPX virus can spread from the time symptoms start until all sores have healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed. This can take several weeks.
What Should You Do If You Are Experiencing Symptoms?
If you have a new or an unexplained rash or other symptoms:
- Remain home or in your residence hall and contact the Student Health Center or your health care provider for further evaluation. The Student Health Center provides healthcare to all registered students, their phone number is 973-655-3459.
- Wear a mask
- Avoid crowds, close contact (including sexual or intimate contact), and kissing while waiting to see your healthcare provider.
What Happens If You Test Positive?
If you are infected with the MPX virus you must isolate until all skin lesions have resolved, the scabs have fallen off, and a fresh layer of intact skin has formed. The length of isolation will vary from patient to patient and may last 21 days (about 3 weeks) or more.
Academics, class absences, and medical leaves:
In accordance with current public health guidance, individuals diagnosed with the MPX virus will be isolated for at least 21 days and will not be permitted to attend classes, work, or campus activities until they have completed their isolation period. In these situations, students should discuss their options with The Dean of Students Office.
Employees who are placed in isolation should consult with Human Resources.
There are currently no treatments specifically for the MPX virus. However, the MPX virus and smallpox viruses are genetically similar, which means that antiviral drugs developed to protect against smallpox, such as tecovirimat (TPOXX), MAY be used as an investigational drug for individuals who meet certain criteria. TPOXX is not FDA-approved for the treatment of Monkeypox and it is considered an investigational drug and not for general use.
Prevention and Advocacy:
There are number of ways to prevent the spread of the MPX virus, including:
- Avoiding close prolonged contact, including sex, with people with symptoms like sores or rashes.
- Wear a mask if you are likely to be in close, prolonged contact with the MPX virus.
- Always talking to your intimate and/or sexual partner/s about any recent illness and being aware of new or unexplained sores or rashes on your body or your partner’s body, including on the genitals and anus. Here are some safer sex tips.
- Reduce your risk of infection if you plan to attend large social gatherings or raves
- Using appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) (like a mask, gown, and gloves) when caring for others with symptoms.
- Avoiding contact with infected materials contaminated with the virus.
We realize monkeypox poses numerous emotional and social challenges. Please note that the university community is here to support you! The following are support services available on campus:
- Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) – Students may utilize CAPS services for support if they are experiencing emotional distress around a suspected diagnosis or diagnosis. Students who would like support after business hours should call the CAPS main number (973-655-5211) and select option 2 for immediate assistance.
- Office for Social Justice and Diversity – provides support and promotes a campus community that is inclusive of all identities
- The Student Health Center is prepared to assist students with symptoms, exposure, and address concerns.
- Health Promotion provides education, outreach and advocacy to enhance the health of all students, faculty and staff.
If you or someone you know has been hurt by sexual assault, sexual harassment, domestic violence, dating violence or stalking, Montclair State University is here to help. The university supports and encourages reporting to address incidents of gender-based violence and harassment.
Why Are Gay and Bisexual Cisgender People Most Affected by the Current Monkeypox/MPX Virus Outbreak?
Nearly all (99%) reported cases are occurring in cisgender and transgender men. However, people of any sexual orientation, gender identity, and age can get the MPX virus. We know that infectious diseases of all types are able to spread more quickly in small social networks and the tightly-knit social network of gay and bisexual cis men is much smaller than the general population’s. The infection can occur in anyone with direct prolonged contact with an infected individual and cases have been reported in cisgender women and children. The MPX virus is not a “gay disease”. Viruses and bacteria can and do infect anyone regardless of sexual orientation. It is not a sexually transmitted infection.
What about Monkeypox/MPX Vaccines?
For New Jersey residents with known exposure to a person with the MPX virus, the two-dose regimen for preventing the MPX virus after being exposed, also known as Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP), continues to be available through their local health department. Anyone with a known exposure within the past 14 days should contact the Student Health Center, your personal health care provider, or a local health department regarding testing and vaccine eligibility. Local health departments will continue to conduct contact tracing and offer the vaccine to anyone identified as a close contact.