Mpox Information for CUIMC Students
Updated January 5, 2023
To align with the World Health Organization "adopt[ing] the term mpox in its communications, and encourag[ing] others to follow these recommendations, to minimize any ongoing negative impact of the current name and from adoption of the new name," all instances of monkeypox on the CUIMC Student Health on Haven website have been changed to mpox. Read the WHO statement for more information.
Mpox is a known virus that belongs to the same family of viruses—known as orthopoxviruses—as the smallpox virus. However, while many of the mpox symptoms are similar to those of smallpox, they tend to be milder, with very rare fatalities. The current outbreak is notable for the relatively large number of cases and breadth of countries from which cases have been reported. Over the past few months, almost 30,000 cases have been reported from more than 90 countries around the world and almost 10,000 cases in the United States. Approximately 2,100 cases have been reported thus far in New York City.
At present, mpox cases in the current outbreak are primarily reported among men who have sex with men (MSM). The overall risk of mpox is generally low for most people as it is primarily spread through direct skin-to-skin, often intimate, contact, and is not known to spread easily through casual interactions, contaminated surfaces, or respiratory droplets.
In the context of this recent outbreak, stigma and discrimination against people with mpox or groups at higher risk of mpox are very concerning, and the University continues to work to thoughtfully share up-to-date information that is accurate, inclusive, and protects the rights of all individuals within our community.
Typical symptoms of mpox start 3-17 days after exposure and can last two to four weeks. The most common symptom is a rash or sores that can look like pimples or blisters, which may appear all over the body or just in certain places, such as inside the mouth, genitals, or anus. Some people also have flu-like respiratory symptoms, such as fever, swollen lymph nodes, and muscle pain.
You should reach out to Student Health on Haven if you are a CUIMC student who was exposed or experiencing symptoms.
You can minimize your risk for exposure to mpox by:
- Asking people whom they share close physical contact with, especially sexual partners, whether they have a rash or other mpox symptoms.
- Avoiding skin-to-skin contact with someone who has a rash or other mpox symptoms or has been diagnosed with mpox.
- Not sharing bedding, towels, clothing, utensils, or cups with a person with confirmed mpox.
- Washing hands, masking, and disinfecting surfaces in shared spaces with a known case, particularly after caring for skin lesions.
Testing for CUIMC students with mpox symptoms is available at Medical Services, and our providers can promptly diagnose and manage potential and confirmed cases as well as provide guidance for exposed contacts.
Schedule a same-day appointment through the Student Health Portal or by calling 212-305-3400.
Columbia University does not have access to the mpox vaccination at this time. Currently, vaccination in NYC is only available through the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH). Supplies are limited, and vaccine eligibility may change based on available supply and as the outbreak evolves. Priority is given to people who have known exposure to a confirmed case. The vaccine is two dose-series given at least four weeks apart, and the first dose of prophylaxis may reduce the severity of symptoms for individuals who have been exposed and later become infected.
For students with clinical responsibilities, pre-exposure vaccination is not currently recommended, as the risk for most front-line healthcare workers is low. Proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and adherence to infection control practices are effective at reducing the risk of transmission of the mpox virus when examining a patient or handling contaminated materials. If you have concerns about your risk or potential for exposure, schedule an appointment with Medical Services through the Student Health Portal or by calling 212-305-3400.
We encourage eligible individuals to schedule a vaccine appointment through the NYC DOHMH.