Updated on August 24, 2022
We continue to monitor the ongoing monkeypox outbreak, the public health landscape, and the CDC guidance. Our public health policies will continue to be informed by science and the guidance from public health advisors at the Mayo Clinic and the Maine CDC. We will continue to work collaboratively with the Maine CDC to facilitate testing, contact tracing, vaccination and treatment.
Please keep in mind that these policies may change based on public health conditions.
What is monkeypox? How is it transmitted?
Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. Monkeypox virus is part of the same family of viruses that can cause smallpox.
Monkeypox can spread from person to person through direct contact with the infectious rash, scabs, or body fluids. It can be spread by respiratory secretions during prolonged, close face-to-face contact, or during intimate physical contact, such as kissing, cuddling, or sex. For more information, please see this information from the CDC.
Although anyone can become infected with monkeypox, currently the virus is primarily spreading among social networks of men who have sex with men.
What should I look for? What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of monkeypox can include: fever, headache, muscle aches and backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills, respiratory symptoms (e.g. sore throat, nasal congestion, or cough), and a rash that can look like pimples or blisters that appears on the face, inside the mouth, and on other parts of the body, like the hands, feet, chest, genitals, or anus. For more information, please see this information from the CDC.
What do I do if I have symptoms of monkeypox?
If you have symptoms of monkeypox, you should:
- Contact a medical provider for evaluation and testing;
- Wear a mask when around others;
- Wear clothing to cover any rashes;
- Limit exposure to others.
Testing for monkeypox requires medical staff to swab a lesion. It is currently not possible to test when only respiratory symptoms are present.
Where can I get tested?
Testing is available at Bates Health Services and local urgent care facilities. Testing capacity is currently limited and test results may take up to five days to receive a result.
What happens if I have clinical symptoms of monkeypox or test positive for monkeypox?
If a student tests positive for monkeypox, medical staff will work collaboratively with the Maine CDC for contact tracing, possible vaccination for close contacts, and treatment.
Bates Health Services will coordinate with campus partners to provide isolation housing and meal delivery while the student is contagious. Bates Health Services will provide medical care and case management support as needed for students who are in isolation housing on campus.
If students receive positive test results at an urgent care facility or Maine Family Planning, they should immediately contact Bates Health Services to facilitate support and isolation.
Are vaccines available? Who is eligible?
In Maine, the monkeypox vaccine is available to individuals of all ages who meet specific criteria, but must include at least one of the below:
- Gay, bisexual, or other men who have sex with men
- Transgender, gender non-conforming, or non-binary individuals who have sex with men
- Individuals exposed to someone with monkeypox in the past 14 days who were notified of the exposure by a:
- public health agency OR
- person with monkeypox
Locally, Maine Family Planning at 179 Lisbon Street is a provider of vaccines. Students can call 207-922-3222 to schedule an appointment. Vaccine eligibility is subject to review and coordination with the Maine CDC.
For more information about vaccine eligibility, see the Maine CDC.
Is treatment available?
Most individuals have mild symptoms and do not need treatment. Treatment includes supportive care to manage symptoms of pain and rashes. Individuals with severe symptoms, weakened immune conditions, or certain conditions may be eligible for antiviral treatment. More information about availability and eligibility in Maine can be found here.
What will happen to my classes and my course work if I test positive for monkeypox?
Students who test positive for monkeypox will not be able to attend classes with active lesions, which could take two to four weeks to resolve. Anyone in isolation with active lesions will need to be cleared over video telehealth by Bates Health Services. Typically, students who miss more than two weeks of classes may need to consider taking a Medical Leave of Absence. As students may be out of class for four weeks while recovering from monkeypox, we will do our best to work with faculty to determine if students can remain enrolled in classes. It is likely that students who have monkeypox will need to withdraw from one, some, or all classes.
What can I do to prevent monkeypox?
There are several things you can do to decrease exposure and risk for infection.
- Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash that looks like monkeypox.
- Avoid contact with objects and materials, such as utensils and linens, that a person with monkeypox has used.
- Wash your hands often.
- Get vaccinated if you’re eligible and able.
- Be thoughtful about social and sexual practices.
- Discuss monkeypox signs and symptoms
- Wear a condom
- Stay away from large gatherings where there is a high potential for skin-to-skin contact with others
- Additional helpful information is linked in the CDC link above
What healthcare is available to students diagnosed with monkeypox?
Students can access medical care at Bates Health Services Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Telehealth appointments can be made by calling 207-786-6199.
Outside of business hours, students can contact the CMMC provider on-call by calling BHS at 207-786-6199 and following the voicemail prompts.
For more urgent medical needs, students can access medical care at the CMMC Emergency Department at 300 Main Street in Lewiston or Maine Urgent Care at 685 Sabattus Street in Lewiston.
More information about accessing care when Health Services is closed can be found here.
Students can reach out to Health Services at firstname.lastname@example.org for non-emergency health care questions and questions about navigating resources on campus, including resources to support them academically while recovering from illness.
All students isolating will have access to meal delivery, mail delivery, isolation housing, and case management support.
For any questions or support needs, students can reach Student Health Support and Outreach Specialist, Brenna Callahan, by emailing email@example.com.
If I test positive for monkeypox, may I return home for my isolation period?
Students who test positive for monkeypox may be able to safely return home for the duration of their isolation period. Whenever feasible, Bates Health Services will work with students to discuss plans to do this safely. Students will need to be cleared by Bates Health Services in collaboration with local public health departments in order to be able to return to campus once recovering.
Where do I direct questions?
Please direct questions related to monkeypox prevention, testing, treatment, vaccination, and isolation to Brenna Callahan, Student Health Support & Outreach Specialist, at firstname.lastname@example.org.