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As New York Medical College (NYMC) leadership remains committed to ensuring the health and safety of all campus community members, we continue to monitor the emergence of monkeypox in the United States and in New York State. The information below is to increase awareness on the disease and share what symptoms are associated with it, so that students, staff and faculty can remain informed and follow the protocols if they are exposed.

For additional information on the disease, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) webpage on monkeypox.

What is monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a viral disease, manifested by a rash of “pox” like lesions. Infection was first discovered in Africa and is endemic in certain African countries where the virus spreads to humans by contact with infected wildlife, usually rodents. It is usually a self-limited disease. There is currently a global outbreak of monkeypox in which the infection is spreading from person–to–person primarily by close intimate contact.

What are the symptoms of monkeypox?

Identification of the rash is key. View key characteristics for identifying monkeypox here.

After exposure symptoms usually develop within one to two weeks but can begin within a few days.

The illness often begins with a prodrome of flu-like symptoms including fever, and may include headache, body aches, swollen lymph nodes, and general exhaustion. Within a few days this is followed by the onset of rash. Swollen lymph nodes are a distinguishing feature of monkeypox. The swollen lymph nodes can be localized or generalized.

The rash: The sores of the rash are often on the face, extremities, chest, hands, feet, genitals and anus. The sores can be inside mouth.

The rash begins as a pimple or sore but progresses to vesicles (blisters) and then pus filled blisters which heal with a scab that falls off. It can become an ulcer before the scab. Sores often go through several stages before healing, which takes about three weeks.

An infected person is not considered contagious until symptoms appear, and they remain contagious until all sores have healed, a new layer of skin is formed and the scabs have fallen off.

Hospitalization if rare but sometimes is needed for the management of proctitis. Immunocompromised persons, young children and pregnant women, may be at risk of more severe disease.

How is the Diagnosis of Monkeypox made?

Monkeypox is diagnosed through recognition of the clinical manifestations and confirmed by a PCR test performed on a sample taken from the rash. The PCR test is now available through some commercial laboratories.

How does monkeypox spread?

In general Monkeypox is not easily spread between people. In the current outbreak, Monkeypox is spreading from one person to another through close physical contact, often skin-to skin, and can also spread through respiratory secretions during prolonged face-to-face or intimate contact. It can spread by contact with contaminated clothing or linens. Monkeypox can spread to the fetus of a pregnant woman via the placenta. 

How does one avoid or prevent exposure?

Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with anyone with a rash that looks like monkeypox. Do not share eating utensils or cups with a person with monkeypox. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

A vaccine which is a Smallpox/Monkeypox vaccine (JYNNEOS) is FDA approved for the prevention of Monkeypox in adults 18 years of age or older, at HIGH RISK for monkeypox infection. Further information is available through the Westchester County Department of Health. The CDC Vaccine Information Statement can be viewed here.

What should one do if they experience symptoms suggestive of Monkeypox?

Persons with confirmed Monkeypox or symptoms highly suggestive of Monkeypox are to isolate at home. In addition, certain persons with confirmed infection may be a candidate to receive a vaccination or antiviral treatment depending upon the duration of illness and the risk for the development of severe disease. In such situations, the use of the vaccine or antiviral treatment is coordinated with the local department of health where the person lives.

What should one do if you may have been exposed to Monkeypox?

Speak to your health care provider. For 21 days following exposure, one is to monitor of any symptoms of Monkeypox. Certain persons may be a candidate for vaccination depending upon the timing and nature of the exposure

Students notified of a Monkeypox exposure in a health care setting are to follow up in accordance with the instructions from the clinical site, and exposed students are to notify NYMC Health Services at health_services@nymc.edu of any symptoms potentially consistent with Monkeypox.

What to Know about Health Care Worker Exposure and Preventing Exposure

  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) to prevent the transmission of Monkeypox includes eye protection, an N95 respirator, gown and gloves.
  • Health care workers involved in the care of a patient with Monkeypox are to monitor for symptoms of Monkeypox for 21 days. As a precautionary measure, this monitoring is done even when PPE was worn. 
  • There is no restriction from work during the period of self-monitoring providing the person is asymptomatic.
  • Exposed persons who develop symptoms potentially consistent with Monkeypox are to stay home.