Dr. Chen's Message to Students on Monkeypox Awareness

August 26, 2022

Dear Students,

A very warm welcome to all of you. We at Yale Health look forward to supporting you through a safe and productive year. 

You have undoubtedly been hearing about monkeypox (MPX) and general information is plentiful, including in a previous message to the Yale community, on the Yale Health website and on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website. We would like to emphasize some important points.

  1. MPX symptoms include: fevers/chills, malaise, muscle/headaches, respiratory symptoms, enlarged lymph nodes, and rash including on mucous membranes (mouth, vagina, anus).
  2. MPX is spread through close skin or mucous membrane contact with an infected person’s rash, not through casual contact. Other possible transmission routes include contact with an infected person’s respiratory secretions, and objects that have been in contact with a MPX rash.
  3. MPX is different from COVID-19. It is much less infectious, and the mode of primary transmission is not airborne. MPX can spread among social and sexual networks but is very unlikely to affect campus health to the degree an airborne virus can.
  4. At this time, the majority of US cases are in men who have sex with men, however it is important to recognize that anybody is susceptible. Sexual activity is the most common mode of transmission due to prolonged contact with an infected person’s rash and respiratory droplet transfer.
  5. Isolation typically lasts 2-4 weeks to allow for full healing of skin lesions.
  6. An effective vaccine, JYNNEOS, is available and can prevent or mitigate disease in those exposed or protect those who are at increased risk.
    1. People with a known exposure to a case, or multiple sexual partners in the previous 14 days, should schedule an appointment at one of 3 local vaccine clinics as soon as possible. You must be 18 or older. A referral is not required.
  7. For optimal impact, vaccine must be given soon after exposure, ideally within 4 days. Close contact notification is therefore an important way to limit disease spread. Contact tracing will also be performed by the Department of Public Health.

In addition to getting vaccinated if eligible, there are important steps you can take to reduce risk. General preventive measures include: 

  1. Avoiding crowded gatherings like parties, bars and concert venues where you could come into contact with an infected rash on exposed skin
  2. Avoiding touching objects like bedding and clothing that may have been in contact with an infected person

If you are sexually active you can lower your risk by considering:

  1. Temporarily reducing the number of sexual partners 
  2. Knowing your partners and discussing risk - ask about any rashes before being intimate, and disclose to partners should a rash develop soon after sex
  3. Condoms - while they may protect your anus, mouth, penis, or vagina from exposure to MPX and against other sexually transmitted infections, they may not prevent all exposures to MPX since the rash can occur on other parts of the body 

It is important to seek medical attention if you develop any concerning symptoms. Should a student test positive, Yale Health will provide isolation instructions along with clinical support. Academic continuity will be addressed individually via the student’s academic program.

Yale Health is prepared to assist with questions and concerns, and to evaluate and test students who might have MPX. Call Student Health at 203-432-0312 or MyChart message us anytime. The Campus Covid Resource Line (CCRL) at 203-432-6604 is also a resource for general questions. We are available and happy to help. 

Christine W. Chen, MD
Chief, Student Health