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Monkeypox is a disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. Despite its name, the current global outbreak is not linked to monkeys or other primates. It spreads between people through close contact (e.g., direct physical contact with the infectious rash, including during intimate contact).

On July 23, 2022, the World Health Organization declared monkeypox a public health emergency of international concern. On August 4, 2022, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared the ongoing spread of monkeypox virus in the United States a Public Health Emergency (PHE).

The risk of contracting this infection is very low for those who have been in casual, rather than close, contact with an infected individual (e.g., being in the same room).

Symptoms of monkeypox can include fever, headache, muscle aches and backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion, and a rash that can look like pimples or blisters that appears on the face, inside the mouth, and on other parts of the body, like the hands, feet, chest, genitals, or anus.

If you develop symptoms consistent with monkeypox, please contact the Student Health Center, if a student, or your primary care provider, if a faculty or staff member, and email Georgetown’s Public Health team at carenavigators@georgetown.edu if you have any questions or concerns.

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Frequently Asked Questions Anchor

Frequently Asked Questions

How is monkeypox transmitted?

Monkeypox can be transmitted through close physical contact with someone who has symptoms through direct skin to skin contact with rash, bodily fluid, pus, or blood from skin lesions and scabs.

According to the CDC, it can also be transmitted via respiratory secretion during prolonged, face-to-face contact (e.g., kissing).

Pregnant women can transmit the virus to the fetus through the placenta.

What are the symptoms of monkeypox? 

Symptoms may include fever, headache, muscle aches, back pain, low energy, swollen lymph nodes followed by a skin rash.  However, a rash can appear without being preceded by flu-like symptoms. The skin lesions can be flat or slightly raised, can be filled with clear or yellowish fluid, and can then crust, dry up and fall off.

Who can get monkeypox?

Anyone can get it, including women and children. Harassment and/or stigmatization related to a suspected or known case of monkeypox are unacceptable.

Please be mindful that there are chronic skin and genetic conditions (such as acne) that may resemble monkeypox lesions. Please do not assume that a person with a rash is infected with  monkeypox.

If you encounter any harassment or discrimination related to monkeypox please report to IDEAA.  

Can I get monkeypox from touching things?

Monkeypox spreads in different ways. According to the CDC, it can also spread via touching items, such as clothing or linens, that previously were in contact with the infectious rash or body fluids. Individuals can also get monkeypox from infected animals, either by being scratched or bitten by an infected animal.

Monkeypox can spread from the time symptoms start until the rash has fully healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed. 

Scientists are researching transmission to learn more, including whether it can be spread by people who are asymptomatic.

Can I get Monkeypox at the gym?

It is unlikely that you will get Monkeypox at the gym. Though the virus that causes monkeypox can stick to surfaces, the main mode of transmission is skin-to-skin. Touching items confers a much lower risk than having close, prolonged skin-to-skin contact with an infected individual.

At Yates Field House, Thompson Athletic Center, and the Ginsburg Sport & Fitness Center, we make every effort to maintain a clean and safe environment at all times.

In addition to daily cleaning, staff consistently wipe down equipment and high touch surfaces. We provide sanitation products such as hand sanitizers and disinfecting wipes throughout the facilities.

Here’s what you can do to stay safe:

  • If you have a rash or any unexplained skin lesions, especially if they were preceded by flu-like symptoms, please do not come to any campus recreation facility or use campus recreation towels. Instead you should seek advice from a healthcare professional.

Please also take the following general precautions:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer before exercising.
  • Wipe down your exercise equipment before and after each use.
  • Consider personal-use items when possible (e.g bring your own yoga mat and/or your own towel).
  • Wear clothes that cover larger areas of your skin to create a barrier and reduce potential exposure.

What should I do if I think I have symptoms consistent with monkeypox?

If you think you have symptoms suggestive of monkeypox please isolate yourself immediately. Wear an N95 mask and cover your rash with clothing or other materials (e.g bandages) if you must come in contact with anyone.

If any of these symptoms are present, and you are a student, reach out to the Student Health Center (202-687-2200) right away.

If you are a faculty or staff or member, please reach out to your primary care physician.

You may reach out to the Care Navigation team for advice at CareNavigators@georgetown.edu.

Does Georgetown provide, or will it provide, the monkeypox vaccine to eligible students or staff? 

At this time, only the DC government is able to administer the monkeypox vaccine. The vaccine is not currently available for administration by individual clinics or universities.

Who is eligible to receive the monkeypox vaccine?

At this time, the following individuals are eligible to receive the vaccine from the DC Department of Health:  District residents, individuals who work in the District, students enrolled at District universities/colleges, and persons affiliated with DC Health Programs that receive health care services in DC, and 18 years of age or older, who meet one of the following criteria:

  • All people, of any sexual orientation or gender, who have had multiple sexual partners in the past 2 weeks, including those currently considered highest risk: gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men, transgender men, and transgender women; or
  • Sex workers (of any sexual orientation or gender); or 
  • Staff (of any sexual orientation or gender) at establishments where sexual activity occurs (e.g., bathhouses, saunas, sex clubs)

To learn more about eligibility requirements and to pre-register for a vaccine appointment, please visit the DC Department of Health website.

The DC government currently offers the JYNNEOS vaccine, which is given, generally, in two doses 28 days apart. New dosing schedules are currently being launched based on new evidence.

For more information about vaccine availability in the local region, please visit the Arlington County website and Montgomery County website.

Is there a test for monkeypox? Where will I get tested?

An infection caused by the monkeypox virus should be confirmed via a PCR test. A clinician will swab your lesion(s) and send it to a lab for processing. Results can take between 3-7 days to be reported. If you are a student, you can get tested at the Student Health Center. 

If you are a faculty or staff member, please inquire about testing with your primary care physician. Not all clinics are equipped and able to offer monkeypox testing at this time. One Medical offers a monkeypox test, which is available to all Georgetown staff and employees. The cost will be billed to your insurance. 

You will have to go into isolation until you get the results.

What happens if I am diagnosed with monkeypox and live on campus?

If you are diagnosed with monkeypox you will have to go into isolation, which can last for approximately three weeks. Georgetown’s Public Health team will provide guidance and support with symptom monitoring, when to end isolation, and other issues related to isolation. 

If you are diagnosed with monkeypox outside of Georgetown, we request that you let the Public Health team know via email at carenavigators@georgetown.edu.

Does Georgetown conduct contact tracing for monkeypox?

Georgetown University does not, at this time, conduct contact tracing for monkeypox. Contact tracing (the process of determining who you came in contact with, when, where, and the extent and nature of that close contact) is carried out by the DC Department of Health. Georgetown Care Navigators may inquire about places you have visited on campus (e.g gym, library, classes) during your infectious period, but will generally not inquire about any other activities or close contacts.

What happens if my roommate is diagnosed with monkeypox?

If your roommate has informed you of their known or suspected infection, please reach out to the Care Navigation team for guidance and assistance with symptom monitoring, vaccination, and cleaning.

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