UT University Health Services

Monkeypox (Mpox) Information and Resources

As of November 2022, following a series of consultations with global experts, WHO will begin using a new preferred term “mpox” as a synonym for monkeypox. Both names will be used simultaneously for one year while “monkeypox” is phased out.

If you are a UT student and have been exposed to mpox or have mpox symptoms, access testing services and guidance at University Health Services by calling the 24/7 Nurse Advice Line at 512-475-6877 (NURS). Employees should contact their personal healthcare provider.

What is mpox?

Mpox is a disease caused by infection with the mpox virus. While mpox can be very painful, it is rarely fatal. The World Health Organization, United States Department of Health and Human Services, and Austin Public Health have declared mpox a public health emergency. Austin Public Health tracks cases of mpox in Travis County, with the dashboard updating weekly on Thursdays. Just as we have seen with other communicable diseases, we expect campus to mirror the community with the incidence of this virus.

How is mpox spread?

Mpox does not spread easily. It is most commonly transmitted through close, personal, often skin-to-skin contact with infected people or animals. It can also be spread through contact with objects, fabrics (clothing, bedding, or towels), and surfaces that have been used by someone with mpox. It can also be spread via respiratory secretions or oral fluids from a person with mpox during prolonged face-to-face contact or during intimate physical contact; however, it does not linger in the air and is not thought to be transmitted during short periods of shared air space.

A person with mpox can spread it to others from the time symptoms start until the rash has fully healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed. The illness typically lasts 2-4 weeks. Scientists are still researching if the virus can be spread when someone has no symptoms.

What are the symptoms of mpox?

A rash or sores, sometimes located on hands, feet, chest, face, around the genitals, or inside the body including mouth, vagina or anus. Other symptoms of mpox can include, fever, headache, muscle aches and backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills, and fatigue. Sometimes these symptoms occur before the onset of the characteristic rash or sores.

Who can get mpox?

Anyone can get mpox, regardless of age, gender identity or sexual orientation.

What precautions should one follow to prevent mpox?

  • Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash that looks like mpox.
  • Do not share bedding, towels, clothing, utensils, or cups with a person with mpox.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially before eating or touching your face and after you use the bathroom.
  • Although mpox is not a sexually transmitted infection, it can be spread through sexual contact. The CDC offers additional tips on preventing mpox through safer sex and safer social gatherings.
  • View additional tips for young adults.

What should I do if I think I have mpox?

If you are a UT student and have a new or unexplained rash or other symptoms of mpox, call the UHS Nurse Advice Line at 512-475-6877.

If you think you have mpox, cover all parts of the rash with clothing, gloves, or bandages, and wear a mask until you can see a healthcare provider. Remember to:

  • Avoid touching anyone until you have been to the doctor.
  • If your test result is positive, follow your healthcare provider’s recommendations for isolation and care.
  • Wash your hands often and try not to touch your eyes.
  • If you wear contact lenses, wear glasses instead, if possible, to avoid infecting your eyes.

Is there a vaccine for mpox?

Yes. The CDC recommends vaccination for people who have been exposed to mpox and people who may be more likely to get mpox. Austin Public Health maintains information on the current criteria for receiving a mpox vaccine in Austin as well as where to access the vaccine.

What is the university doing to mitigate risk?

UT has a longstanding public health infrastructure and implements mitigation protocols when faced with known or emerging communicable diseases, and we collaborate on strategies needed to reduce the incidence or spread within our population. Mpox will be handled as we would most other communicable illnesses with similar modes of transmission. The university:

  • Continues to build upon our strong relationships with state and local health departments and aligns to the extent possible with guidance from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention for reducing mpox transmission in congregate settings
  • Provides education to the community on mpox and how to prevent it
  • Provides medical services to students by clinicians trained to identify and test for mpox, along with what protocols to follow if a patient tests positive
  • Coordinates with Austin Public Health for contact tracing and vaccines
  • Assists members of the UT community in managing isolation and academic impacts, if needed
  • Assesses decontamination needs if a UT community member tests positive.

What role does stigma play in this outbreak?

Presumed origins and communities who experience early impact from a communicable disease can influence stigmatization. Among many concerns, stigma can:

  • hamper help-seeking amongst stigmatized communities
  • lead non-stigmatized communities to ignore preventative advice under the mistaken presumption that they are not vulnerable to the disease
  • exacerbate discrimination
  • deteriorate mental health

Eliminating stigma is the only way to ensure that patients receive the care they need.

Where can I learn more?

For more information about mpox, please visit the FAQ page provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Additionally, Austin Public Health has a dedicated nurseline for questions about mpox: 512-972-5560.

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