UNC-CH Campus Health is working in coordination with the Orange County Health Department, CDC and NC DHHS to prevent and respond to mpox.
What is mpox?
Mpox is a disease caused by a virus similar to smallpox, but symptoms from mpox are usually milder.
Infections with the type of mpox in this 2022 outbreak are rarely fatal, but symptoms can be painful.
How is mpox spread?
Mpox 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 mpox.
The most typical way mpox is spread is through skin-to-skin contact.
What are the signs and symptoms of mpox?
Mpox symptoms usually start within three weeks of exposure to the virus, and may include:
- Muscle aches
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Rash / lesion
What steps can I take to prevent getting mpox?
- 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 mpox.
- 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 mpox in the United States is believed to be low. However, anyone in close contact with a person with mpox can get it and should take steps to protect themselves.
What should I know about the mpox vaccine?
Vaccines are available in limited supply at no cost for:
- Anyone who had close contact in the past two weeks with someone who has been diagnosed with mpox; or
- Gay, bisexual, or other men who have sex with men, or transgender individuals, who are sexually active; or
- People who have had sexual contact with gay, bisexual, or other men who have sex with men, or transgender individuals in the past 90 days; or
- People living with HIV, or taking medication to prevent HIV (PrEP), or who were diagnosed with syphilis in the past 90 days.
Those who are interested in getting vaccinated against mpox should contact their local health department or Campus Health. Campus Health is a designated mpox vaccination provider and is receiving periodic supply; call or send a portal message to determine when mpox vaccinations are available. Orange County is partnering with Durham County Health Department for mpox 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. See NCDHHS' list of mpox vaccine locations.
What if I'm worried that I have been exposed?
If you feel sick or have an unexplained rash/lesion, or you’re concerned about a potential or known exposure:
- Get checked. Contact Campus Health by sending a message through the Healthy Heels portal, or by calling 919-966-2281. Let them know if you have a rash or a concern about mpox. *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 mpox when symptoms are present.
- 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 or lesions covered.
What do I do if I am diagnosed with mpox?
Follow the instructions of your medical provider. Students should isolate themselves in place or return home until cleared by their medical provider. Detailed isolation and cleaning instructions for mpox can be found on the CDC website.