What is Mpox?

Mpox (formerly known as monkeypox) is caused by a virus that is related to the virus that causes smallpox. Mpox symptoms are similar to smallpox symptoms, but milder, and mpox is rarely fatal.

On Aug. 4, 2022, the United States Department of Public Health declared the U.S. outbreak of the mpox virus to be a public health emergency.

How Does It Spread?

The virus is spread mostly through close, intimate contact with someone who has mpox. Learn the facts about transmission.

What Are the Symptoms of Mpox?

  • Fever.
  • Headache.
  • Muscle aches and backache.
  • Swollen lymph nodes.
  • Chills.
  • Respiratory symptoms (e.g. sore throat, nasal congestion or cough).
  • A rash that can look like pimples or blisters that appears on the face, inside the mouth and on other parts of the body, such as the hands, feet, chest, genitals or anus.
  • The rash goes through different stages before healing completely. The illness typically lasts 2-4 weeks.
  • Sometimes, people get a rash first, followed by other symptoms. Others only experience a rash.

Learn more about mpox symptoms

What Do I Do If I Have Symptoms?

If you have symptoms, you should immediately call to schedule an appointment with a health care provider. Please do not go to a health care provider without an appointment first to ensure the health and well-being of those around you. Students can contact the Northwestern Medicine Student Health Center; employees should contact their personal health care providers. The CDC also advises to:

  • Avoid close contact (including intimate physical contact) with others until you see a health care provider.
  • Avoid close contact with pets or other animals until you see a health care provider.
  • If you’re waiting for test results, follow the same precautions.
  • If your test result is positive, stay isolated and observe other prevention practices until your rash has healed, all scabs have fallen off and a fresh layer of intact skin has formed.
  • Remain isolated if you have a fever, sore throat, nasal congestion or cough. Only go out to see a health care provider or for an emergency. Avoid public transportation.

What Happens If I Test Positive for Mpox?

Individuals who test positive will need to isolate for approximately two to four weeks and then be cleared by their physicians before being permitted to leave their isolation settings.

Students must notify the university if they have tested and are awaiting results, or if they have received positive results, in order to receive academic accommodations and/or housing support. Students can do this by completing NIU’s online mpox notification form. Students are strongly encouraged to return to their permanent residence when self-isolating to best manage their care. If that is not possible, NIU will work with students so they can safely isolate.

NIU employees who test positive should isolate at home and make arrangements to work remotely, if their roles allow, or utilize sick time benefits until cleared by their physicians to return.

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