Nebraska Medicine and the University Health Center are closely monitoring the national monkeypox outbreak and are in contact with local health departments and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Anyone can get monkeypox

The health center encourages all students to learn about monkeypox and take action to protect themselves. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Monkeypox is a viral infection primarily spread through prolonged close contact
  • Anyone can be at risk, regardless of gender or sexual orientation
  • The most common symptom is a rash or sores that look like pimples or blisters; some people experience fevers and fatigue before or after the rash develops

The University Health Center can test for monkeypox. If you have symptoms, self-isolate and call 402.472.5000 to schedule an appointment.

Monkeypox examples
Monkeypox symptoms

The illness usually begins within two to three weeks of exposure. The most common symptom is a rash or sores that look like pimples or blisters. These may be all over the body or just in certain parts, such as genitals, anus, face, arms, hands, legs, feet, chest or back. Sores in the anus or the urethra can make it difficult to go to the bathroom. Some people also have flu symptoms like fever, headache, muscle aches, exhaustion and swollen lymph nodes.

If you are concerned about your risk for contracting monkeypox, call 402.472.5000 to speak to a University Health Center medical professional.

If you are harassed, experience bias or feel targeted in any way, contact Counseling and Psychological Services for support.

How monkeypox spreads

A person with monkeypox can spread it to others from the onset of symptoms until the rash has fully healed (scabs have fallen off) and a new layer of skin has formed. In the current outbreak, monkeypox is primarily spreading during oral, anal and vaginal sex, as well as other intimate contact such as kissing and cuddling. However, condoms do not guard against it. It also can spread outside of sexual interactions via close contact and can be contracted by anyone, regardless of your gender or sexual orientation.

The virus can spread through:

  • Direct contact with body fluids or sores on an infected person
  • By touching materials that have touched an infected person's body fluids or sores, like clothing or linens
  • Respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact, like a long conversation with a friend, or intimate contact, like kissing or cuddling with someone

Experts are currently studying whether the virus can spread through genital fluids, saliva, feces and other bodily fluids.

People can spread the virus when they have symptoms. Experts are studying whether the virus can spread before symptoms start or after they end.

Preventing monkeypox

To prevent monkeypox, you can:

  • Wash your hands regularly using soap and warm water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. This is especially important after contact with animals or anyone who is sick
  • Avoid contact with materials, such as bedding, that have been in contact with a sick person or animal
  • Refrain from kissing, cuddling or having sex with someone who is sick. Avoid sex and other intimate contact with multiple or anonymous partners
  • Ask your health care provider whether you might be eligible for the Jynneos vaccine. You can also complete this vaccine assessment form to assess your eligibility. This is currently in very short supply but being distributed to people who are at highest risk for monkeypox, including those with a recent exposure to monkeypox
Treating monkeypox

There is no specific treatment approved for monkeypox. Most people get better on their own without treatment. However, antivirals for smallpox may help. A doctor can help determine whether you are eligible for antiviral treatment. They may also be able to provide medication for symptom relief.

If you develop symptoms concerning for monkeypox, please isolate from others immediately and talk to your health care provider, particularly if you've had close contact with someone who has a confirmed case of monkeypox.

If you have monkeypox symptoms, please call 402.472.5000 to schedule an appointment to see a University Health Center doctor.

Additional resources

Frequently asked questions

Is monkeypox a Sexually Transmitted Infection?
There are false rumors online claiming people can only get monkeypox if they have sex with an infected person. On the contrary, monkeypox is a virus that can be transmitted with or without sexual contact. Scientists are currently investigating whether it spreads through semen, anal or vaginal fluids.

Does monkeypox only occur in men who have sex with men?
No. Although the recent outbreak is currently affecting gay or bisexual men disproportionately, it can affect anyone and is not exclusive to this group.

Can monkeypox kill a person?
Monkeypox is not usually a deadly disease, but it can be very painful and present with severe symptoms that may require hospitalization. It can also significantly affect the quality of life. The lesions can result in scarring and the number of days in isolation can also be distressing. All scabs must have dried up and fallen off with new skin forming before a person can leave isolation and this often takes 4 weeks or more.

Can I get monkeypox from surfaces?
It’s possible, but good hand washing and avoiding ill people reduces your risk. Continue to sanitize high-touch surfaces, especially if you live with, sleep with or care for an infected person.