August 16: The Campus Brief
Dear Campus Community,
Welcome to all returning and new faculty, students and staff for the 2022-2023 academic year. The Campus Brief is an occasional communication that originated with the COVID pandemic and is designed to provide medical information about infectious diseases, guidance to the University of Florida community on how best to use this information, and how the university is responding through policies and action. UF is fortunate to have a deep well of medical expertise in UF Health, which includes UF’s six health colleges and our hospital systems in Gainesville, Jacksonville and Central Florida. An array of practicing epidemiologists, public health experts and other medical professionals provide information and advice to the university to address any emerging threats to campus health.
This issue of the Campus Brief will focus on a relatively new concern emerging throughout the U.S., namely monkeypox. Since the beginning of 2022, cases of monkeypox have been appearing in the U.S., including several hundred cases that have now been reported in Florida. To date, no cases have presented on the UF campus.
Transmission. Human-to-human transmission occurs primarily through prolonged direct contact with an infected person’s lesions. Brief interactions (such as a handshake) are not high risk. Surfaces and materials that were in contact with monkeypox lesions, such as clothing, towels or bedding, may lead to transmission. Monkeypox also can be spread by respiratory droplets and smaller particles during prolonged face-to-face contact. It is also possible that animals such as dogs may contract this infection from their infected owners. The incubation period after infection lasts, on average, 7-14 days but can range from 5-21 days.
Monkeypox often, but not always, begins with fever, headache, muscle aches and exhaustion. Approximately 1 to 3 days later (sometimes longer), a rash appears, which can be painful and itchy as it evolves. In addition to a rash, monkeypox can cause lymph nodes to swell. For most patients, monkeypox is a self-limited disease typically lasting for 2-4 weeks.
Treatment protocols and availability of vaccine are the focus of an evolving discussion in the U.S.
Behavior. The overwhelming majority of cases in the U.S. have been transmitted through intimate sexual contact. As of this communication, 99% of all monkeypox cases have occurred in men, but it is likely that more women will become infected as the disease progresses. It is important that you consider this in deciding how widely to engage in intimate activities. Be aware, also, that you should not share towels or bedding, to the extent possible. Sharing clothing with a person with active monkeypox lesions also is a risk for transmission.
What to do if you’ve been exposed or develop a rash. If you think you’ve been exposed, or if you’ve developed a rash, consult the Student Health Care Center or your private physician. While awaiting your assessment, be sure to cover any part of your skin that has the rash, and avoid touching objects in common areas. In assessing whether you have been exposed to monkeypox, you should consider whether you have engaged in any high-risk activities (such as prolonged direct contact with an infected person).
As the monkeypox epidemic evolves in the U.S., we will continue to keep the campus apprised of important health information and updates. We hope this information is useful to you and that you enjoy a safe, healthy and productive fall semester.
Joe Glover, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs
Charlie Lane, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer
David R. Nelson, M.D., Senior Vice President for Health Affairs, UF & President, UF Health
David Norton, Vice President for Research
Amanda Phalin, Faculty Senate Chair; Senior Lecturer, Department of Management, Warrington College of Business
Heather White, Associate Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students