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Monkeypox FAQs

UNC-CH Campus Health is working in coordination with the Orange County Health Department, CDC and NC DHHS to prevent and respond to monkeypox.  

What is monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a disease caused by a virus similar to smallpox, but symptoms from monkeypox are usually milder.  

Infections with the type of monkeypox in this 2022 outbreak are rarely fatal, but symptoms can be painful. 

How is monkeypox spread?

Monkeypox spreads in different ways. The virus can spread from person-to-person through:  

  • Direct contact with the infectious rash, scabs, or body fluids.
  • Respiratory secretions during prolonged face-to-face contact, or during intimate physical contact, such as kissing, cuddling, or sex. 
  • Touching items such as clothing, bedding, or towels that have been used by someone with monkeypox. 

What are the signs and symptoms of monkeypox?

Monkeypox symptoms usually start within three weeks of exposure to the virus, and may include:  

  • Fever 
  • Chills 
  • Headache 
  • Muscle aches 
  • Exhaustion 
  • Swollen lymph nodes 
  • Clear or pus-filled bumps

What steps can I take to prevent getting monkeypox?

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.  
  • Avoid close contact with and handling linens of people with monkeypox. 
  • Avoid enclosed spaces where there is intimate or sexual contact. 
  • Avoid parties or clubs where attendees wear minimal clothing and where there is direct, personal, skin-to-skin contact.  

At this time, the risk of monkeypox in the United States is believed to be low. However, anyone in close contact with a person with monkeypox can get it and should take steps to protect themselves.

What should I know about the monkeypox vaccine?

Vaccines are available in limited supply at no cost for:

  • People with known or suspected exposure to monkeypox.  
  • Men who have sex with men, or transgender individuals, who report any of the following in the last 90 days:
    • Having multiple or anonymous sex partners
    • Being diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection
    • Receiving HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP)
  • Certain healthcare workers and public health response team members designated by public health authorities

Those who are interested in getting vaccinated against monkeypox should contact their local health department. Orange County is partnering with Durham County Health Department for monkeypox vaccine at this time. If you meet one of the above criteria, call 919-560-9217 to request vaccination at the Durham County Department of Public Health.

What if I'm worried that I have been exposed?

If you feel sick or have unexplained rashes, or you’re concerned about a potential or known exposure: 

  • Get checked. Contact Campus Health by calling 919-966-2281. Let them know if you have a rash or a concern about monkeypox. *Note: Campus Health is available for eligible UNC-CH students, post-docs, and partners. If you are not someone who can receive services at Campus Health, contact your medical provider.
  • Get tested. Your healthcare provider can test for monkeypox. 
  • Get protected. Vaccines are available in limited supply and can help even after exposure.

Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with people until you have been evaluated by a healthcare provider. Wear a well-fitting mask when around others and keep the rash covered.  

What do I do if I am diagnosed with monkeypox?

Follow the instructions of your medical provider. Students should isolate themselves in place or return home. Detailed isolation and cleaning instructions for monkeypox can be found on the CDC website.

Rash examples

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