As you likely know, Mpox—an infection related to smallpox—was previously declared a health emergency in the United States, and in New York City.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Infections with the type of (Mpox) virus identified in this outbreak—the West African type—are rarely fatal. Over 99% of people who get this form of the disease are likely to survive. However, people with weakened immune systems, children under 8 years of age, people with a history of eczema, and people who are pregnant or breastfeeding may be more likely to get seriously ill or die.” The CDC’s frequently asked questions about Mpox can be found at this link.
How does Mpox spread?
Mpox can spread to anyone through close, personal, often skin-to-skin contact, including direct contact with Mpox rash, scabs, or body fluids from a person with Mpox; touching objects, fabrics (clothing, bedding, or towels), and surfaces that have been used by someone with Mpox; and contact with respiratory secretions. A pregnant person can spread the virus to their fetus through the placenta.
Most infections in the current outbreak have occurred through close contact during sex, although Mpox is not classified as a sexually transmitted disease. It has been recognized that gay and bisexual men are the communities that have been most impacted, however it is important to recognize that the spread of Mpox as described above is not limited to individuals of a specific sexual orientation or gender identity.
What are the symptoms of Mpox?
People with Mpox get a rash that may be located on or near the genitals or anus and could be on other areas like the hands, feet, chest, face, or mouth. The rash will go through several stages, including scabs, before healing. The rash can initially look like pimples or blisters and may be painful or itchy.
Other symptoms of Mpox can include: fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes, exhaustion, muscle aches and backache, headache, and respiratory symptoms (e.g. sore throat, nasal congestion, or cough).
What should I do if I have symptoms?
If you have symptoms of Mpox, do not come to campus. You should contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible, even if you don’t think you had contact with someone who has Mpox. Please call University Health Services (Rose Hill or Westchester: 718-817-4160, Lincoln Center: 212-636-7160) to schedule a virtual appointment and arrange for testing. (Faculty and staff should notify their department heads or direct supervisors.)
How is Mpox treated?
Mpox generally resolves without treatment. There are no treatments specifically for Mpox virus infections. However, Mpox and smallpox viruses are genetically similar, which means that antiviral drugs and vaccines developed to protect against smallpox may be used to prevent and treat Mpox virus infections.
How can Mpox be prevented?
Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash that looks like Mpox. Do not share eating utensils or cups with a person with Mpox. Do not handle or touch the bedding, towels, or clothing of a person with Mpox. 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.
CDC recommends vaccination for people who have been exposed to Mpox and people who may be more likely to get Mpox. Vaccines are available in New York City.
Though Mpox is rarely fatal, it can spread quickly through a population. We urge members of the community to take appropriate precautions against contracting the virus, and to report symptoms to the appropriate University officials as quickly as possible.