MPX (Monkeypox)

Last Reviewed 9/22/2022

The University’s Public Health Response Team is monitoring the global rise in MPX (monkeypox) cases and is taking a number of important steps to prepare for the likelihood that MPX infections will be identified on Princeton’s campus. MPX was recently declared a public health emergency in the United States. Generally, a public health emergency is declared when there is a need to allocate additional human or material resources to prevention, tracking, or managing a threat to public health. It does not always mean that there is a serious threat to all individuals in the country, state, or institution.

University Health Services (UHS) is ready to respond to calls from students who have concerns about potential exposure, as well as offer care to those who have signs or symptoms of infection. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us for medical care by calling us at 609-258-3141.

Learn more about:

The MPX Virus and Current Outbreak

MPX is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus.  During the current outbreak, cases are being reported from multiple countries on all continents. What is unique about the present MPX outbreak is both that countries that don’t normally report many MPX cases, like the United States, are seeing an unexpected increase; and that it is spreading through personal contact, including but not limited to sexual contact.

Because of the nature of close-knit social and sexual communities, right now the U.S. is seeing much higher rates of exposure among cisgender gay/queer/bi men who have sex with men, trans women, and sex workers of all genders.  

Signs and Symptoms of MPX

Symptoms start within 21 days of exposure and may begin with flu-like symptoms and a rash that can look like pimples or blisters 1-4 days later. Other symptoms may include fever, chills, muscle aches and backaches, headaches, swollen lymph nodes, and respiratory symptoms. If the MPX exposure was through sexual contact, rash may appear on or near your genitals (penis, testicles, labia, vagina) or anus.

How MPX Spreads

MPX can spread through close, personal skin-to-skin contact, including direct contact with the rash, bodily fluids, or respiratory secretions of someone with MPX, or by touching fabrics (like towels) and objects of that person. Transmission can occur from the time symptoms start through when the rash or lesions are fully healed.

Recommendations for Reducing Your Risk

Avoid skin-to-skin contact with anyone who has a rash that looks like MPX and avoid contact with objects and materials that a person with MPX has used.

Here are some recommendations for reducing your risk when in crowds (like parties or clubs) or when being sexually active with others.

Vaccination Eligibility and Availability

Vaccination is recommended for those who have been exposed to MPX and people who may be at higher risk of exposure.

At this time, supplies of MPX vaccine in the United States are and may continue to be limited.

In New Jersey, the vaccine is only available by appointment at specific New Jersey Department of Health partners across the state. The University does not have access to MPX vaccines. We hope that vaccine supplies will be more widely available in the future.

Vaccine eligibility can vary from state to state:

If you are outside of these three states, visit your state’s Department of Health website for information specific to your location and consider accessing vaccination options local to you if you are outside New Jersey, New York, or Pennsylvania. 

We recommend you consider whether you meet all aspects of eligibility before signing up for a vaccine so that those who are in highest need get first access.

If you are a student who has received an MPX vaccine, please upload the information about your vaccination to the MyUHS portal

MPX Treatment

In most cases, MPX will resolve on its own. Supportive care like pain management may be available if needed. There are also antiviral medications that may be recommended for people with severe symptoms or people who are more likely to get severely ill, like patients with weakened immune systems. Only people who meet certain criteria will be eligible for antiviral medications. 

MPX and Isolation

Individuals who may have been exposed to MPX must isolate until they get their test results. Individuals who have a confirmed MPX diagnosis are expected to isolate at home or at another location for the duration of the illness, until the rash has healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed, which may take 2 to 4 weeks.

For graduate and undergraduate students living in University housing, UHS will advise you on your on-campus isolation location and how you will receive meals. The University will work directly with you to determine how best to support your academic progress. 

Faculty, staff, researchers, and students who live off-campus will isolate at home or another location, as recommended by their healthcare provider in consultation with their local health department. For off-campus graduate and undergraduate students, your healthcare provider is UHS, so please start by contacting us.

If Exposed to MPX

Graduate and undergraduate students, if you had a close contact with a person with MPX or are exhibiting any symptoms, contact us at UHS immediately by calling 609-258-3141.

Staff and faculty, if you had a close contact with a person with MPX or are exhibiting any symptoms, contact your healthcare provider or local health department.

Students, UHS will coordinate with the local health department to conduct a risk assessment to determine the appropriate next steps for you. For employees, this risk assessment will be conducted by your provider or the local health department. In certain cases, post-exposure vaccination may be recommended, whether you are a student or employee.

What testing is available for MPX?

Currently, testing for MPX involves taking swab samples from a lesion or rash. This type of testing must be done through a healthcare provider. The campus testing laboratory for COVID-19 is not authorized to conduct this testing. There are currently no self-testing options for MPX.  

  • For students, UHS is able to provide testing via Quest Lab. 
  • Faculty and staff should consult their healthcare provider for testing.

For more and up-to-date information about testing, please see:

Emotional Support for Students

For emotional support during this time, consider getting connected to staff at the Gender + Sexuality Resource Center or making an appointment with a CPS clinician