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Monkeypox Health Advisory

August 9, 2022: On Friday, the Biden Administration declared Monkeypox a public health emergency following the previous Monday’s announcement by the state of California.

We understand that news of a new infectious disease on top of the COVID-19 pandemic can be concerning and result in feelings of anxiousness and uncertainty. Here are some reminders on how best to protect yourself and others as there are active cases in every country where UCEAP operates a program.

Most cases in this outbreak have occurred in Spain (4,300 cases), Germany (2,677 cases), and the UK (2,469 cases), according to data through Aug. 2. Disease surveillance and contact tracing continue, and it is important to understand that each country will have their own processes that may be different from the United States and the CDC approach. However, you can use the CDC resources to educate yourself on the disease. Please note that the vaccine for Monkeypox may not be available in your program country. Consider this factor as you determine your own personal risk and risk tolerance to this disease.

Many of the cases in this outbreak report attending one or more recent mass gatherings in Antwerp, Madrid, and Gran Canaria, Spain; mass gatherings always present an elevated risk of infectious disease. Human-to-human transmission occurs among people in close physical contact, with the increase in recent cases linked to sexual contact, suggesting that the virus linked to the disease can be sexually transmitted. The current outbreak highlights the importance of vigilant safe sexual practices and suggests monkeypox can be transmitted while the infected person displays few or no symptoms; however, the risk is currently assessed as low for individuals not routinely engaging with multiple or anonymous sexual partners. For further information, please consult the CDC webpage on Safer Sex, Social Gatherings, and Monkeypox.

Frequently Asked Questions

Monkeypox is caused by a virus belonging to the same family as the one that causes smallpox. However, monkeypox is not the same as smallpox, and it does not have the same capacity for rapid human-to-human transmission. Monkeypox is mainly transmitted to humans through direct contact with the bodily fluids of infected rodents or primates.

Monkeypox can be spread through:

  • Direct skin-skin contact with rash lesions
  • Sexual/intimate contact, including kissing
  • Living in a house and sharing a bed with someone
  • Sharing towels or unwashed clothing
  • Respiratory secretions through prolonged face-to-face interactions (the type that mainly happens when living with someone or caring for someone who has monkeypox)

Monkeypox is NOT spread through:

  • Casual brief conversations
  • Walking by someone with monkeypox, like in a grocery store

Monkeypox 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. The rash or sores may be located on or near the genitals (penis, testicles, labia, and vagina) or anus (butt) but could also be on other areas like the hands, feet, chest, and face. They may also be limited to one part of the body. People with monkeypox may experience all or only a few of these symptoms. Most with monkeypox will develop rash or sores. Some people have reported developing a rash or sores before (or without) the flu-like symptoms. Monkeypox 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.

Consult the CDC prevention website for detailed information. There are number of ways to prevent the spread of monkeypox, including:

  • Always talk to your sexual partner/s about any recent illness and be aware of new or unexplained sores or rashes on your body or your partner’s body, including on the genitals and anus
  • Avoiding close contact, including sex, with people with symptoms like sores or rashes
  • Practicing good hand hygiene
  • Avoiding contact with infected materials contaminated with the virus
  • Avoiding contact with infected animals
  • Covering the nose and mouth when coughing and avoiding obviously ill individuals
  • Avoiding overcrowded areas such as nightclubs

Please follow your local campus student health center and CDC guidance. If necessary, inform your program specialist that you may have a delayed arrival.

Monkeypox is treated as any other infectious disease by the student travel insurance policy. You will be required to follow the country guidelines, which may include quarantine and/or isolation and contact tracing, until the symptoms are improved or have gone away completely.

UCEAP encourages you to educate yourself on this disease and remain vigilant throughout your study abroad experience. Further notices regarding Monkeypox may be issued as this public health emergency develops.

Please email Julie Pollard, director of International Health, Safety & Crisis Management.