Wednesday, August 10, 2022
Dear Faculty, Staff, and Students of the UNT System,
As you may know, the World Health Organization has declared monkeypox a public health emergency of international concern. While the current threat of monkeypox in the general public is low in our region, please know we are closely monitoring the increasing number of cases across North Texas and specifically within the counties we have a presence.
As always, the health and safety of all remains a top priority, and leadership across the entire UNT System is proactively preparing response plans and guidance. Thus, I have asked health experts from the Health Science Center to provide a formal update and assessment of the true risk of monkeypox in North Texas. Below, you will find information and resources regarding monkeypox.
Stay safe and healthy,
Chancellor Michael R. Williams
Members of the UNT System:
We understand that news of a new infectious disease on top of the last few years of the COVID-19 pandemic can be concerning and result in feelings of anxiety and uncertainty. Currently, the risk of monkeypox is low with less than 800 cases in Texas as of Wednesday, Aug. 10. Please carefully review the information below and visit your local county’s health department website or the CDC’s website for more information. Additionally, please remember that campus mental health resources remain readily available, as well as the Employee Assistance Program for faculty and staff. We will continue to communicate updates as new information becomes available to share.
Jessica Rangel, MS RN FNAP
Executive Vice President of Health Systems
Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. Monkeypox is part of the same family of viruses that cause smallpox. Monkeypox symptoms are similar to smallpox symptoms, but milder, and monkeypox is rarely fatal. Monkeypox might start with symptoms like the flu, with fever, low energy, swollen lymph nodes and general body aches. Within one to three days (sometimes longer) after the appearance of fever, the person can develop a rash or sores.
People with monkeypox may experience all or only a few of these symptoms. Most individuals with monkeypox will develop the rash or sores. Two main strains of the monkeypox virus are known to exist; the milder strain is currently circulating. Monkeypox is not related to chickenpox.
Monkeypox spreads primarily through direct contact with infectious sores, scabs or body fluids, during activities like kissing, hugging, massaging, cuddling, and sex. Monkeypox can spread through touching materials that haven’t been cleaned after being used by a person with monkeypox. This could include clothing or bedding. It can also spread by respiratory secretions during prolonged, close, face-to-face contact. Monkeypox is not spread through casual, brief conversations or walking by someone with monkeypox. Monkeypox can affect anyone, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation.
Exposure or Symptoms
If you have had an exposure, have symptoms you are concerned about, or need to speak with someone about your risk, please reach out to your primary care provider or local health department. Most providers now can test for monkeypox through commercial laboratories.
A vaccination helps to protect against monkeypox when given before or shortly after an exposure. In the United States, JYNNEOS and ACAM2000 are two monkeypox vaccines currently available through the Strategic National Stockpile. At this time, the federal government has allocated a limited number of JYNNEOS vaccine doses to Texas. For now, county public health departments are making limited numbers of vaccines available to those identified at highest risk. Check with your local health department for vaccine availability.
UNT System Response & Planning
Across the entire UNT System, leadership is working to prepare detailed response plans, university-specific guidance, as well as sample collection locations for testing and acquiring vaccines for distribution as appropriate. Additionally, providers and staff members are being trained to identify monkeypox.
If you contract monkeypox and need to self-isolate until the infectious period has passed, please reach out to your respective campus contact. Collectively, the UNT System will work closely with health officials to keep our campuses prepared, informed, and healthy.
Additional Information & Resources
For additional information, please visit local county health department: