What is Monkeypox?
Monkeypox is a viral disease that is usually found in Central and West Africa. The monkeypox virus is part of the same family of viruses as variola virus, the virus that causes smallpox. Monkeypox symptoms are similar to smallpox symptoms, but milder, and monkeypox is rarely fatal. Monkeypox is not related to chickenpox.
Monkeypox was first discovered in laboratory monkeys in 1958. In 1970, Monkeypox was reported in humans for the first time. Previously, almost all monkeypox cases in people outside of Africa were linked to international travel to countries where the disease commonly occurs or through imported animals. These cases occurred on multiple continents.
What are some of the signs and symptoms of Monkepox?
For some people, monkeypox can start off feeling like the flu: fever, swollen lymph nodes, and just feeling unwell. Not everyone gets these symptoms though.
Other symptoms of monkeypox can include:
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Muscle aches and backache
- Respiratory symptoms (e.g. sore throat, nasal congestion, or cough)
You may experience all or only a few symptoms
- Sometimes, people have flu-like symptoms before the rash.
- Some people get a rash first, followed by other symptoms.
- Others only experience a rash.
People who have monkeypox will start to see a rash or lesions (they look like bumps) develop within a couple of weeks after being exposed. The lesions can show up anywhere on the body including on the face, in the mouth, or on or around the genitals or anus. The lesions can be very subtle and people might only notice one or two lesions.
Some people report that the lesions can be very painful and itchy. Other people say that they can be mild. These are some examples of what monkeypox lesions look like:
How can you get monkeypox?
People who are in close, personal contact with someone who has monkeypox can get it from them. There are several ways that it could spread. It can spread:
- If you touch the rash, the scabs of the lesions, or body fluids of someone who has monkeypox,
- If you have close personal contact, like kissing, cuddling, or sex, with someone who has monkeypox,
- If you touch things like clothes or bed sheets that have touched the rash or body fluids of someone who has monkeypox,
- From a pregnant person to their fetus.
You can get monkeypox from someone else as soon as they have a fever or feel unwell or have a lesion. They can give it to someone else the entire time they have a rash until the lesions have scabbed over, fallen off, and new skin has grown back. This can take up to a month.
Who can get monkeypox?
Anyone who is exposed to monkeypox can get it. Some groups of Philadelphians are at a higher risk of being exposed to monkeypox. The current outbreak of monkeypox has been found more often in men who have sex with men who have had multiple partners in the past few weeks. So people with potential risky exposures should take extra precautions to protect themselves.
How can you protect yourself?
Take the following steps to prevent getting 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.
- Avoid contact with objects and materials that a person with monkeypox has used.
- 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, especially before eating or touching your face and after you use the bathroom.
What should you do if you think you were exposed to monkeypox?
If you think that you were exposed to monkeypox, you should call the Health Department at 215-685-5488 to tell them you may have been exposed to monkeypox.
What happens when you’re exposed?
If a person is exposed to someone with monkeypox, they should call the Health Department at 215-685-5488 to tell them you may have been exposed to monkeypox immediately.
What should you do if you have symptoms?
If a person has symptoms of monkeypox, including a rash or lesions, they should call their regular healthcare provider immediately. If they don’t have a healthcare provider, they can find a public health clinic or visit an urgent care facility.
It’s important that some people’s symptoms of monkeypox are very mild and they might not notice it right away. If you think you may have been exposed and something feels wrong, contact your healthcare provider.
For more information about monkeypox and the monkeypox vaccine, please visit monkeypox in Philadelphia or CDC: Monkeypox
What will we do at St. Peter’s School to protect students, faculty and staff from monkeypox?
As with COVID and other communicable diseases, we will do our best to prevent any transmission of monkeypox in school. We will ask students to wash hands with soap and water or sanitize hands frequently during the day, especially before eating and after using the bathroom.
Families are encouraged not to send their children to school sick. This is one of the best ways we can protect each other. Some students are groggy or slow-moving the mornings before school and we understand that this is normal and not associated with illness. However, if a student is acting more tired than usual followed by other symptoms such as a fever, new and unidentified rash, cough or stomach upset, please do not medicate them and send them to school.
If a case is detected at school, the person will be masked and isolated from others until they can be dismissed home. We will notify families via email, call or text as soon as possible. All possibly contaminated spaces will be cleaned and sanitized. All students will be asked to wash hands immediately. We will monitor all other students and staff who will remain in school over the next several days. We do not plan to close school unless mandated by the Health Department.