Cases of monkeypox are increasing around the globe, and the World Health Organization (WHO) is viewing the outbreak of the rare disease as a significant threat. The virus is part of the same family of viruses as smallpox, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
While public health officials say monkeypox poses little threat to the general public, employers should be aware of its spread through close personal contact.
"Transmission depends on what the risk of that situation is, the proximity, the duration, whether people were masked or not, and whether there was skin-to-skin contact," Dr. Matthew Hamill of Johns Hopkins' Division of Infectious Diseases told Inc.
The risk of spreading monkeypox in an office where a worker normally wears long sleeves, long pants and a mask and doesn't touch anyone or anything is quite low, for example. However, "that risk could creep up if, say, that person is sitting in close quarters with their colleagues in a conference room for most of the day," Hamill noted.
Monkeypox symptoms are similar to but milder than smallpox symptoms and are rarely fatal, the CDC said. Monkeypox is not related to chickenpox.
The Biden administration is expanding access to testing and vaccines against the outbreak. It's not as threatening as COVID-19, but employees need to be wary. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will dispense 56,000 doses of the Jynneos vaccine, which helps prevent both smallpox and monkeypox, to regions with high case counts and where more at-risk populations reside.
SHRM Online has collected the following news articles and resources about monkeypox.
Monkeypox Cases Are Rising. Here's How to Protect Your Workplace
Skin-to-skin contact is the primary mode monkeypox is transmitted, according to Dr. Matthew Hamill of Johns Hopkins' Division of Infectious Diseases, and through unwashed bedding and towels or sharing cups and plates.
[SHRM members-only how-to guide: How to Handle Communicable Diseases in the Workplace]
WHO Declares Rapidly Spreading Monkeypox Outbreak a Global Health Emergency
WHO has activated its highest alert level for the growing monkeypox outbreak, declaring the virus a public health emergency of international concern. The rare designation means the WHO now views the outbreak as a significant enough threat to global health that a coordinated international response is needed to prevent the virus from spreading further and potentially escalating into a pandemic.
What Is Monkeypox? What to Know About Symptoms, Vaccines and How It Spreads
Cases, which can include a rash, have been reported in the U.S., U.K. and Canada; until recently, outbreaks rarely occurred outside West and Central Africa.
(The Wall Street Journal)
2022 U.S. Map and Monkeypox Case Count
As of July 22, there were 2,891 confirmed cases of monkeypox in the U.S., according to the CDC. The agency explains on its website how monkeypox is spread, as well as how to prevent and treat it. The illness lasts two to four weeks. People who do not have monkeypox symptoms cannot spread the virus to others.
Monkeypox Numbers, Treatment and Prevention with Two CDC Experts
Two experts from the CDC's Division of High-Consequence Pathogens & Pathology in Atlanta, Drs. Caroline Schrodt and Jennifer McQuiston, talk with American Medical Association Chief Experience Officer Todd Unger about what physicians need to know about monkeypox, including the latest numbers, how it's spread, which populations are most vulnerable, common symptoms, and available treatments and testing.
(American Medical Association)