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By Nicole Godnick

First, it was COVID-19, and now it’s the monkeypox. Unfortunately, it seems we can’t get a break from one virus to another. 

What is the monkeypox virus?

Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus, which is part of the same family as the smallpox virus. 

According to CDC.gov., the symptoms of monkeypox include, but are not limited to:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Backaches
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Chills
  • Respiratory symptoms
  • Rashes that looks like pimples or blisters that appears on the face, inside the mouth, and on other parts of the body, like the hands, feet, chest, genitals, or anus.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms and think you may have monkeypox contact Health Services at healthservices@msmc.edu or call 845-569-3152.

How does the monkeypox virus spread?

Contrary to popular belief, monkeypox is not a sexually transmitted disease. Sex is one of the ways monkeypox can spread, but it is not the only way. The virus can spread from person to person through direct contact with the infectious rash, fluid from saliva, or respiratory secretions during prolonged face-to-face contact.

Monkeypox can spread from when symptoms start to when the rash has fully healed (usually, this is a 2 to 4-week period). 

Anyone in close contact with someone who has monkeypox should take the proper precautions to protect themselves.

How do I stay safe against monkeypox?

  • Avoid close skin-to-skin contact with anyone who appears to have symptoms. 
  • Like any virus, regularly clean hands with soap and water to rid germs or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. 
  • Try not to share clothes, bedding, utensils, etc., if you suspect someone you know has monkeypox.

Is there a vaccine against monkeypox?

Since monkeypox and smallpox come from the same family, smallpox vaccines can help to protect against monkeypox!

Mount Saint Mary College will have a free monkeypox vaccination clinic on campus on Wednesday, September 21st, and Wednesday, October 19th, at 317 Powell Avenue (This is a house owned by the college and is directly across the street from the main entrance). 

Anyone can attend these clinics, whether you are a resident of Orange County or not. For more information about the vaccine being offered, contact the Orange County Department of Health at 845-291-2330.

Appointments will be available every 10 minutes from 9:30 am to 11:50 am and from 1:30 pm to 6:20 pm on both days. To register, visit www.msmc.edu/monkeypox.

Please note that the monkeypox vaccine consists of two doses. The clinics will have both the first and the second doses available. Therefore, if you want to receive the full course of the monkeypox vaccination and you have not yet received any doses, make sure to sign up for both the September and October clinics.