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Campus Update on Monkeypox

Section 1

Aug. 2, 2022

Dear Campus Community,

Recently, the World Health Organization declared monkeypox a public health emergency of international concern. Yesterday, Gov. Newsom declared a state of emergency in California over monkeypox. Orange County currently has 10 known cases. While there are no known cases of monkeypox on campus, monkeypox can affect anyone regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation, and we are preparing our community for the possibility of a small number of cases on campus. The current risk of monkeypox in the general public is very low, based on information available. Below, you will find information and resources regarding monkeypox, as well as information on how UCI is preparing to respond in the event of cases on campus.

What is monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. Monkeypox is part of the same family of viruses that cause smallpox. Monkeypox symptoms are similar to smallpox symptoms, but milder, and monkeypox is rarely fatal. Monkeypox might start with symptoms like the flu, with fever, low energy, swollen lymph nodes and general body aches. Within 1 to 3 days (sometimes longer) after the appearance of fever, the person can develop a rash or sores.

People with monkeypox may experience all or only a few of these symptoms. Most with monkeypox will develop the rash or sores. Two main strains of the monkeypox virus are known to exist; the milder strain is currently circulating. Monkeypox is not related to chickenpox.

How is monkeypox spread?

Monkeypox spreads primarily through direct contact with infectious sores, scabs or body fluids, during activities like kissing, hugging, massaging, cuddling and sex. Monkeypox can spread through touching materials used by a person with monkeypox that haven’t been cleaned, such as clothing and bedding. It can also spread by respiratory secretions during prolonged, close, face-to-face contact. Monkeypox is not spread through casual brief conversations or walking by someone with monkeypox.

What to do if you have had an exposure or symptoms

If you have had an exposure, have symptoms you are concerned about, or need to speak with someone about your risk, please reach out to your primary care provider. Most providers now can test for monkeypox through commercial laboratories. Students can schedule appointments with their Student Health Center providers Monday-Friday through their Student Health Portal, or speak with someone after-hours and weekends by calling the 24/7 Nurse Advice Line.

Is there a vaccine?

Yes. Vaccination helps to protect against monkeypox when given before or shortly after an exposure. In the United States, JYNNEOS and ACAM2000 are two monkeypox vaccines currently available via the Strategic National Stockpile. At this time, the federal government has allocated a limited number of JYNNEOS vaccine doses to California.

In Orange County, the Orange County Health Care Agency is making vaccine available to those identified at highest risk, and appointments can be scheduled at the Othena website. As vaccine supply is very limited, the Health Care Agency suggests that people check back daily on the Othena website for appointment availability. If you are not currently in Orange County, check with your local health department for vaccine availability. UCI’s Student Health Center is working to secure the vaccine for the campus student community.

How is the campus preparing?

Student Health Center providers and staff have been trained in identifying monkeypox, and our laboratory is prepared to collect and send samples for testing. In addition, we are working to acquire vaccines on campus for students. There are plans for isolation spaces for students living on campus who contract monkeypox and need to self-isolate until the infectious period has passed. UCI continues to work closely with the Orange County Health Care Agency to keep the campus prepared, informed and healthy.

We understand that news of a new infectious disease on top of the last few years of the COVID-19 pandemic can be concerning and result in feelings of anxiety and uncertainty. Campus mental health resources are available through the Counseling Center and the Student Health Center. Faculty and staff may seek support through the Employee Assistance Program.

More information

For additional information, please visit UCI Forward website. You can also watch a UCI Minute on monkeypox featuring Dr. Shruti Gohil from UCI Health. Other resources include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Orange County Health Care Agency.

We will continue to communicate with the campus as we have new information to share.

Thank you,

Bernadette Boden-Albala, MPH, DrPH
Director and Founding Dean
Program in Public Health

Albert Chang MD, MPH
Medical Director
Student Health Center

David M. Souleles, MPH ‘87
Director, MPH Program and Practice
Director, COVID-19 Response Team