On August 4, 2022, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services joined the World Health Organization in declaring monkeypox a public health emergency both in the U.S. and globally, following the worldwide rise in cases.
Williams is sharing information to help raise campus awareness about symptoms, prevention and treatment. Please also visit the CDC’s monkeypox site form more information—especially about what to do if you have possible symptoms or have come in contact with someone who may be infected. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health is currently building capacity for testing, treatment, and vaccination for those who meet current criteria.
This is an evolving situation: the college is closely monitoring data and public health guidance, and will announce additional health and safety measures if necessary.
Monkeypox is a relatively rare orthopoxvirus, in the same family of viruses that cause smallpox. It is not related to chickenpox.
Most people with monkeypox will get a pimple- or blister-like rash. It may be very itchy or painful. The rash can occur on or near the genitals (penis, scrotum, labia or vagina) or anus, or on the hands, feet, chest, face, mouth or other parts of the body. The rash goes through several stages before scabbing. The scabs then eventually slough off and are replaced by a fresh layer of skin.
In addition to a rash, the virus may cause flu-like symptoms: fever; chills; exhaustion; muscle aches and backache; headache; swollen lymph nodes in the neck, armpit, or groin; or respiratory symptoms like sore throat, nasal congestion or cough.
Visit the CDC monkeypox site for full information about symptoms.
Monkeypox can spread to anyone through skin-to-skin and other forms of close, personal contact, including:
- Direct contact with monkeypox rash, scabs, or body fluids and respiratory secretions from someone with monkeypox.
- Prolonged body-to-body contact with such a person, including cuddling or sleeping in close contact.
- Oral, anal, and vaginal sex, and/or hand-to-genital, hand-to-anus, and hand-to-mouth contact with a person with monkeypox.
- Hugging, massage or kissing.
- Touching fabrics or personal items that have come into contact with an infected person’s sores or body fluids, and which have not been disinfected (for example, clothing, sheets, towels or toys/items used during sex).
- Avoid close contact (skin-to-skin, sexual or prolonged face-to-face contact) with anyone who is symptomatic for monkeypox.
- Avoid contact with fabrics or personal items that have come into contact with an infected person’s sores or body fluids, and which have not been disinfected (for example, clothing, sheets, towels, eating utensils or toys/items used during sex).
- Wash your hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Use safer sex practices, especially in communities and sexual networks experiencing a greater incidence of monkeypox
There are two FDA-approved vaccines for monkeypox, but supplies and distribution networks are currently quite limited. The CDC and most state health departments are limiting vaccination to the following groups for now:
- People who have been identified by public health officials as close contacts of people with monkeypox.
- People who are aware that a sexual partner from the previous two weeks has been diagnosed with monkeypox.
- People who have had multiple sexual partners during the previous two weeks, in a geographic area where monkeypox has been identified.
- Certain laboratory and healthcare workers.
Vaccinations are not currently available within Berkshire County. See the monkeypox websites created by the states of Massachusetts and New York for information about vaccination availability regionally. We will update this site if vaccinations become available nearby.