The name for mpox, formerly known as monkeypox, has been changed in order to reduce stigma and other issues associated with prior terminology. Mpox is not a new virus: scientists know how it spreads and there is a vaccine and treatment for it.

However, there is concern about the increasing number of cases across the United States and globally. SHS is working closely with state and local health officials to prevent and identify mpox cases and provide medical care for any BU student who contracts it.

SHS emphasizes that viruses can infect people of all sexual orientations, gender identities, races, and ethnicities. Current messaging about mpox being a “gay” illness creates stigma, perpetuates misconceptions, harms those who are most vulnerable, and prevents reaching all who are at risk. Stigma prevents people from seeking care, and can endanger people’s health and safety. SHS acknowledges that gay, bisexual, queer men, and transgender and nonbinary people who have sex with men have recently been disproportionally affected – and that structural inequities and stigma are adversely impacting care for this population.

What are the symptoms?

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches or backache
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Chills
  • Exhaustion
  • A rash that looks like pimples or blisters
  • Rash may appear on the genitals, anus, inside of the mouth, face, hands, feet, chest or other areas

How is it transmitted?

  • Mpox is not a sexually transmitted infection (STI).
  • It is spread through close physical, contact like kissing, cuddling, or sex.
  • It can also be spread by direct contact with infectious rashes, scabs or fluids, or by touching items that have previously touched a rash or bodily fluids (clothing, sheets, or towels).

What should I do if I have symptoms or am exposed?

If you are experiencing symptoms or have been exposed to someone with mpox, please call SHS at (617) 353-3575. SHS offers testing for mpox on site and can help answer questions you may have. Mpox vaccines are available at local vaccination locations. Please call the location first, they will determine your eligibility and schedule an appointment if indicated. If you are eligible, there is no cost for the vaccine. While SHS does not currently offer monkeypox treatment, our nurses can help coordinate care and treatment with a local provider.

If you test positive for mpox and live in a shared space on campus, SHS will work with Residence Life and BU Housing to coordinate accommodations for you so that you can isolate. If you have been exposed but do not test positive, you do not need to quarantine.

How can I protect myself?

  • If you are having intimate skin-to-skin contact with someone, ask if they have any symptoms of mpox. If you or a partner has symptoms, seek medical care before engaging in intimate activity.
  • Be sure to avoid touching any rash and do not share things like towels, toothbrushes, or sex toys.
  • Learn more from this CDC resource on safer sex, social gatherings, and mpx.

What is the incubation period, and how long does mpox last?

The incubation period, or the time it takes to develop the infection after being exposed, is 3-17 days. Current data suggest people can be infectious, or spread mpox from the time symptoms start until all symptoms, including skin lesions, have resolved. The illness can last 2-4 weeks.

Where can I learn more?

For more information about mpox, including prevention, signs and symptoms, and treatment, please visit the CDC website. Their Frequently Asked Questions page provides detailed information on numerous topics.