Update on Monkeypox and Preventive Steps

August 16, 2022

Dear Grinnellians,

As you may know, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) are tracking the outbreak of monkeypox, which has been declared a public health emergency in the United States. As with all public health concerns, Grinnell College is closely monitoring emerging information about monkeypox so we can best implement health and safety measures to protect our community, when necessary.

What is monkeypox?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), monkeypox is a rare orthopoxvirus, part of the same family as the variola virus, which causes smallpox. Monkeypox causes milder symptoms and is rarely fatal.

How can you reduce your risk and prevent spread?

The CDC offers the following preventive steps:

  1. Avoid skin-to-skin contact with someone who has a rash that looks like monkeypox.
  2. Avoid kissing, hugging, cuddling, or having sex with someone who has symptoms consistent with monkeypox.
  3. Do not share utensils or drinks or handle the bedding, towels, or clothing of someone who has symptoms consistent with monkeypox.
  4. Practice good handwashing hygiene and regularly clean surfaces, bedding, and towels.

What to do if you have symptoms

Students with concerns about symptoms or exposure, or who are seeking evaluation, should contact Grinnell College Student Health and Wellness (SHAW) at 641-269-3230. SHAW will help students seek appropriate testing and medical treatment. Students can also contact a local provider for an appointment — go to Quick Visit or Grinnell Regional Medical Center Urgent Care.

Employees should talk to their health care provider. Anyone with symptoms should avoid direct contact with others until they can be diagnosed.

Individuals with confirmed cases should avoid contact with others until all skin lesions have completely healed and a fresh new layer of intact skin has formed.

The College will continue to monitor local conditions and maintain communication with the local health department. We are ready to support the medical needs of students on campus. More information and frequently asked questions about monkeypox can be found on our website [Edited May 2, 2023: content no longer available] as well as the CDC website.

Thank you,

Heather Cox,

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