UNIVERSITY PARK, Pennsylvania – Penn State University Health Services (UHS) is encouraging students to protect themselves against monkeypox in light of cases in Pennsylvania and nationwide. Monkeypox is a viral infection that is mainly spread by prolonged close contact. It is not a sexually transmitted infection (STI) and anyone can be at risk, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. The most common symptoms of monkeypox are fever, rash, and swollen lymph nodes.
UHS encourages all students to learn about monkeypoxwhich was recently declared a national public health emergency, and take the necessary precautions.
“We know that students often live in close quarters and spend a lot of time interacting closely with their peers, so we want our community to be aware of the signs and symptoms of monkeypox and what steps they can take. to protect themselves and our university community. as a whole,” said Dr. Rebecca Simcik, UHS Medical Director. “We are in close contact with the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and we have a response plan in place to diagnose, evaluate, and treat any student who may contract the monkeypox virus.”
According to the CDC, people with monkeypox typically have a rash that can be located on or near the genitals or anus and can be found on other parts of the body, including the hands, feet, throat. chest, face or mouth. Other symptoms of monkeypox may include fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes, exhaustion, muscle aches and back pain, headache, and respiratory symptoms like sore throat, congestion nasal passage or a cough.
There have been no deaths in the United States caused by the monkeypox virus, and individuals generally recover from the disease on their own without medical treatment. However, people with underlying health conditions may experience a more severe case of monkeypox, if contracted.
Transmission and prevention
Since monkeypox is not a sexually transmitted infection (STI), condoms do not protect it and it can be spread outside of sexual interactions. It can also be contracted by anyone, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. It spreads in four main ways:
- Direct contact with rashes, scabs or body fluids.
- Direct contact with respiratory secretions during prolonged face-to-face contact or during intimate physical contact, such as kissing, hugging, or having sex.
- Direct contact with objects or tissues that have previously touched the rash or bodily fluids of a person with monkeypox.
- Being scratched or bitten by an infected animal (pets can be infected with monkeypox).
The virus is contagious from the time symptoms appear until the rash has completely healed and a new layer of skin has formed, which can take two to four weeks.
To protect yourself
To protect against monkeypox, students and others should avoid close skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash. Other precautions include:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Do not touch the rash or scabs of a person with monkeypox.
- Do not kiss, hug, cuddle or have sex with someone who has monkeypox.
- Do not share utensils or cups with someone who has monkeypox.
- Do not handle or touch the bedding, towels, or clothing of someone with monkeypox.
What to do if you get monkeypox
UHS advises University Park students who develop symptoms of monkeypox to schedule an appointment with UHS or call the 24/7 Nurse Advisor at 814-865-4UHS (4847) and press 3. Commonwealth campuses should go to their campus health center or other health care. vendor for next steps and testing.
Students with an active rash or symptoms should self-isolate at home and stay in a separate room away from other people or pets when possible. Students who live on campus will be required to move to an isolation space. Since the isolation period can be up to four weeks, students on campus should expect to make arrangements to complete their isolation at home. Student Affairs staff will work with those who cannot travel. Because the monkeypox virus is spread through direct contact, faculty members will not be notified if a student in their class contracts the virus and must self-isolate. Students who must self-isolate are encouraged to discuss their academic concerns with their individual instructor and/or academic advisors.
Faculty and staff with symptoms of monkeypox should stay home and contact their healthcare provider for testing or further steps. Employees who test positive should self-isolate at home, away from other members of their household, and arrange to work remotely if possible or use sick leave until their isolation period ends .
Anyone who may have come into contact with someone with a case of monkeypox should closely monitor their health, watch for symptoms, and contact UHS or their health care provider to schedule an appointment if symptoms appear. .
Students who are concerned about their risk of contracting monkeypox can contact UHS or their healthcare provider. Students who experience bias or harassment can submit a report to Report Bias at equity.psu.edu/reportbias. For individual support related to bias or harassment, students can contact these student affairs offices: Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity or Counseling and Psychological Services.
University Health Services, a student affairs unit at Penn State, continues to monitor the virus and will update the Penn State community as information changes or new information becomes available.
For more information on monkeypox, visit Penn State’s Student Affairs Health and Welfare website.