As we prepare for the return to campus this Fall, we are again facing some unexpected public health challenges. The Student Health Center continues to work closely with the Region 6/5 South Department of State Health Services (DSHS) and Walker County Health Officials, along with our campus partners to provide up to date information and resources to you as available.
We hope this page will assist to answer some questions and provide you with some additional resource links.
We encourage SHSU students to utilize the Student Health Center as their on-campus health service and contact us for any questions or concerns they may have.
What is monkeypox?
Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. The monkeypox virus is part of the same family of viruses that causes smallpox. Monkeypox symptoms are like smallpox symptoms, but milder, and monkeypox is rarely fatal.
- What are the symptoms?
- Muscle aches and backache
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Respiratory symptoms (e.g., sore throat, nasal congestion or cough)
- A rash that may be located on or near the genitals (penis, testicles, labia and vagina) or anus but could also be on other areas like the hands, feet, chest, face, or mouth
- The rash will go through several states, including scabs, before healing
- The rash can look like pimples or blisters and may be painful or itchy
Individuals with monkeypox may experience all or only a few of these symptoms. Most individuals with monkeypox will develop a rash or sores. Some people have reported developing a rash or sores before (or without) experiencing flu-like symptoms.
Infected people who do not have sores can still spread it, so the absence of sores or rash does not reliably rule out infection or contagiousness.
Monkeypox can be spread from the time symptoms start until the rash is healed, all scabs have fallen off, and a fresh layer of skin has formed. The illness typically lasts two to four weeks.
- How is monkeypox spread?
Routes of transmission include:
- Close, personal, often skin-to-skin contact with infected people or animals.
- Contact with respiratory secretions or oral fluids from a person with monkeypox 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.
- Contact with objects, fabrics (clothing, bedding, or towels) and surfaces that have been used by someone with monkeypox.
Monkeypox is NOT spread through:
- Casual brief conversations.
- Walking by someone with monkeypox, like in a grocery store.
- Who is at risk for monkeypox?
Anyone can get monkeypox, regardless of age, sexual orientation, or gender identity. The biggest risk factor currently appears to be having sex with people you do not know well and not knowing who they have had sex or intimate contact with in the last 21 days. The disease is presently mostly affecting men who identify as gay, bisexual, or straight men having sexual contact with other men regardless of sexual orientation. It can spread regardless of gender through straight sex or even just general intimate contact without sex with someone who is infected.
- Is monkeypox considered an STI (Sexually Transmitted Illness)?
Sexually Transmitted Illness (STI) is a designation for diseases that are typically spread by sharing bodily fluids as typically occurs during sexual intercourse. Monkeypox is not an STI, but it can still be transmitted from one person to another during sex even without the exchange of body fluids like many other diseases such as flu, colds, COVID, norovirus, etc. that are not designated as STI.
- What are other at-risk activities besides sex for the spread of monkeypox?
Besides sex, the disease can spread by any activity where there is skin-to-skin contact.
Additionally, the sharing of these items can expose someone:
- Eating utensils, cups or drinking bottles
- Linens, towels, or bedding
- Vaping items or drug paraphernalia
- What can individuals do to reduce risk and prevent spread of monkeypox?
- Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash that looks like monkeypox.
- Do not touch the rash or scabs of a person with monkeypox.
- Do not kiss, hug, cuddle, or have sex with someone with monkeypox.
- Do not share eating utensils or cups with a person with monkeypox.
- Do not handle or touch the bedding, towels or clothing of a person with monkeypox.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Is there a vaccine for monkeypox?
While there are effective vaccines for monkeypox, the CDC does not recommend widespread vaccination against monkeypox. However, postexposure prophylaxis vaccines (PEP) may be recommended for people who have had contact with someone who has monkeypox.
- What should I do if I think I have monkeypox?
If you notice a new or unexplained rash or other monkeypox symptoms OR if you believe you have been exposed to an individual with monkeypox, avoid close contact with others and contact your healthcare provider immediately.
- SHSU students should contact the Student Health Center at 936-294-1805 or their primary care physician of choice.
- Employees should contact their primary care physician.
- What services related to Monkeypox are being offered at the SHC for students?
The SHC will be offering lab testing and vaccination services. If you have questions or feel you need an appointment please call 936-294-1805.
Monkeypox rash images
Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
Texas Department of State Health Services
Monkeypox and Safer Sex (cdc.gov)
What You Need to Know about Monkeypox if You are a Teen or Young Adult (cdc.gov)