Information and Resources on Monkeypox

July 29, 2022

Columbia University is working closely with city, state, and federal health officials as we monitor the multi-country outbreak of monkeypox. Numerous cases have been confirmed in New York City and the surrounding areas as well as other parts of the United States and many countries around the world.

Monkeypox virus infections are rare and result in disease that has previously occurred largely in countries in sub–Saharan Africa. Typical symptoms include fever, muscle pain, swollen lymph glands, and a rash that forms pus-filled blisters which then crust over. The illness is usually mild and self-limited. The current outbreak is distinguished by the presentation of a rash and sores on the skin and in the mouth and other mucosal areas. In some cases, monkeypox can be painful and result in scarring. Severe cases may occur in young children, pregnant people, or people with suppressed immune systems (including those living with HIV).

Monkeypox predominantly spreads through close contact between people. Anyone can get infected with monkeypox. During this current outbreak, at this point in time, certain communities are impacted by monkeypox infection more than others, including men who have sex with men (MSM).

Testing

Testing for CUIMC students with Monkeypox 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.

Prevention and Risk Reduction

Individuals can minimize their risk for exposure by:

  • Asking people whom they share close physical contact with, especially sexual partners, whether they have a rash or other monkeypox symptoms.
  • Avoiding skin-to-skin contact with someone who has a rash or other monkeypox symptoms or has been diagnosed with monkeypox.
  • Not sharing bedding, towels, clothing, utensils, or cups with a person with confirmed monkeypox.
  • Washing hands, masking, and disinfecting surfaces in shared spaces with a known case, particularly after caring for skin lesions.

CUIMC students should reach out to Student Health on Haven if exposed or experiencing symptoms.

Vaccination

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 a first dose 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 monkeypox 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.

Columbia University does not have access to the monkeypox vaccination at this time. We encourage eligible individuals to schedule a vaccine appointment through the NYC Department of Health.

Additional Resources