University of Waterloo students and employees are reminded to take proper public health measures and educate themselves on signs, symptoms, transmission, and vaccines as they return to life on campus. Read below to learn more.
What is Monkeypox?
Monkeypox is a rare viral disease spread by close contact. Monkeypox is usually a mild illness with symptoms resolving on their own within a few weeks. In rare circumstances, severe cases can occur.
How does Monkeypox spread?
Monkeypox can spread through any type of close contact with someone who has the virus. Sexual contact is just one of the ways it can spread.
Close contact can include:
- Skin-to-skin contact with lesions or open wounds
- Contact with bodily fluids (e.g. blood, saliva, semen)
- Contact with mucosal surfaces (eyes, nose, and mouth) during prolonged face-to-face contact
- Contaminated personal items (bedding, towels, clothing, cutlery, toothbrushes, sex toys)
Who can get Monkeypox?
While monkeypox is currently disproportionately affecting queer communities, it’s important that everyone is taking proper public health measures. Anyone can get infected and spread monkeypox if they come into close contact with someone who has the virus, regardless of:
- Gender or
- Sexual orientation
Why are people calling it an STI?
Stigma! Thinking of monkeypox as an STI that only affects men who have sex with men ignores that it can pass through all of the above ways between anyone. This stigma can lead to people not getting the healthcare they need to help stop the spread.
What are the symptoms of Monkeypox?
People usually develop symptoms 5 to 21 days after being exposed to the virus and typically last from 2 to 4 weeks. Symptoms include:
- A rash that could affect any part of the body (mouth, genitals, face, arms and legs, hands and feet)
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Muscle pain
- Joint pain
- Back pain
What to do if you've been exposted or have symptoms
If you think you have monkeypox or have symptoms, self-isolate and contact a healthcare provider right away. University of Waterloo students can contact Campus Wellness to seek medical care at 519-888-4096
Case report and contact management is provided by Region of Waterloo Public Health (ROWPH). If you have had contact with a known or suspected case of monkeypox, contact ROWPH at 519-575-4400.
If you’re diagnosed, make sure to isolate away from others. It’s important to follow your healthcare provider’s advice on how long they recommend you isolate.
While you’re isolating, follow public health measures to reduce the risk of spreading the virus to others in your house. This includes covering coughs and sneezes, washing your hands, and cleaning and disinfecting shared surfaces and objects. The Public Health Agency of Canada has additional details on what to do if you have a monkeypox infection.
Preventing the spread of Monkeypox
Following public health measures can reduce your risk of getting or spreading monkeypox.
- Stay home when you’re feeling sick
- Cover coughs and sneezes
- Wash your hands regularly
- Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces and objects
- Avoid skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash that looks like monkeypox
- Avoid contact with objects and materials that someone with monkeypox has used
A vaccine is currently available for adults 18 years of age and older who are at high risk of contracting the virus. Imvamune® vaccine is approved in Canada for protection against smallpox, monkeypox and other orthopoxvirus-related illnesses. The vaccine contains a weakened virus and cannot make you sick.
Based on Ontario Ministry of Health guidelines, the vaccine is only available for eligible groups. Please visit ROWPH’s website for the most up-to-date information on vaccines. The vaccine is not available at Campus Wellness
*Website content adapted with permission from the University of Guelph.