Monkeypox Information

Monkeypox was recently declared a public health emergency of international concern by the World Health Organization.  While no cases have been detected on our campus, we are writing to let you know how our campus is responding and preparing for Monkeypox. While Monkeypox has spread throughout parts of the United States, the current risk to the general public remains low.

What is monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a rare viral infection that does not usually cause serious illness but can result in hospitalization. Monkeypox is not related to chicken pox. It is spread mostly through close physical contact with an infected person or by touching materials used by an infected person, such as clothing or towels.  It is less transmissible than chicken pox, measles, or even Covid-19.

Symptoms can include fever, headache, muscle aches and backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion, and a rash that can look like pimples or blisters. Monkeypox is contagious once the person has developed symptoms and can be spread until the rash has healed, all scabs separate, and a fresh layer of skin is formed.

Who can get it?

Anyone can get monkeypox. Monkeypox spreads primarily through direct contact with infectious sores, scabs, or body fluids. It can also spread through touching materials used by a person with monkeypox, such as clothing and bedding, or by respiratory secretions during prolonged close contact. Monkeypox is not spread through casual brief conversations or walking by someone who is infected.

How are we responding?

As of 8/30, there have been 17 cases confirmed in Jefferson County. While no cases have been identified on our campus, we are closely monitoring the situation and working with public health resources to ensure we are prepared to implement measures to ensure the wellbeing of our community.

What should you do if you think you may have been exposed or infected?

If you have had exposure, have symptoms you are concerned about, or need to speak with someone about your risk, please reach out to your primary care provider or visit an urgent treatment center to see if you should be tested and treated.

Although the Bellarmine Office of Health Services currently is unable to test for monkeypox, free Norton eCare visits are available to Bellarmine students who have symptoms or may have been exposed. Their providers can help you determine if you need to be tested and will share available test locations. You can access Norton eCare here.

If your test result is positive, please contact health services, stay isolated and observe prevention practices until all lesions have healed. For more information, visit https://www.cdc.gov/poxvirus/monkeypox/clinicians/infection-control-home.html.

There is a monkeypox vaccine, but due to a limited supply, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Kentucky Department for Public Health (KDPH) have prioritized vaccinations for those with high risk or documented exposure to a known case.  These criteria may change over time. As we know more information regarding vaccine access to the community, we will post the information on our website.

To prevent the spread of monkeypox, the CDC recommends that we:

  • Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash that looks like monkeypox.
  • Avoid contact with objects and materials that a person with monkeypox has used.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

As always, we appreciate your commitment to the wellbeing of our community.