Monkeypox in the Workplace

As of August 23, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported nearly 43,000 monkeypox cases. Thirty-one thousand and four hundred and twenty-five of those cases are in countries that have not historically reported monkeypox. The majority of cases found are right here in the US. 

 

As of now, the US has a total of 15,433 open cases. New York leads with nearly 3,000 cases reported. California, Florida, Texas, and Georgia numbers are climbing with 2,663, 1,588, 1,283, and 1,190 reports, respectively. 


Monkeypox cases continue to rise, affecting many people’s daily lives. Initially, most cases reported were of bisexual and gay men, but monkeypox can affect anyone. We must be alert and take preventable measures to prevent this disease from spreading further. This includes taking measures and being alert in the workplace. Below is more information about monkeypox, and we have also included things to consider regarding monkeypox in the workplace.

What is Monkeypox

According to the CDC, monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. The monkeypox virus is part of the same family of viruses as the variola virus, which causes smallpox.

How Does Monkeypox Spread?

There are a few ways monkeypox can spread, including,

 

  • Skin-to-skin contact with someone who has monkeypox
  • Sharing or touching clothes, bedding, towels, and other fabrics with someone who has monkeypox 
  • Contact with respiratory secretions
  • Oral, anal, and vaginal sex or touching the genitals or anus of someone with monkeypox
  • Hugging, massage, kissing
  • Prolonged face-to-face contact
  • Scratched or bitten by an infected animal 
  • Preparing or eating meat products produced by infected animals 

 

Note: pregnant women can spread the virus to their baby through the placenta if infected.

Symptoms

People with monkeypox get a rash that can appear to be a blister or pimples. The rash can be located on or near the genitals, anus, and other areas, including the back, chest, face, mouth, hands, or feet. They are usually painful and can be itchy.

 

Other symptoms can include:

 

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle and Back Aches
  • Headache
  • Swollen Lymph Nodes
  • Respiratory Symptoms (e.g., cough, nasal congestion, sore throat)

 

Symptoms occur differently for everyone. Some may experience rashes first, while others may experience flu-like symptoms first. It is also important to note that some only experience rashes. This illness typically lasts 2-4 weeks, and symptoms start within three weeks of exposure. For more information about treatment and vaccines, check out the CDC website.

 

Jobs at Risk of Monkeypox

As mentioned, monkeypox spreads by skin-to-skin contact, so if you work in an environment with many people, please stay vigilant. Some high-risk employment places may include:

 

  • Airports
  • Homeless Shelters
  • Correctional and Detention Facilities
  • Group Homes
  • Dormitories at Institutes Of Higher Education
  • Seasonal Worker Housing
  • Residential Substance Use Treatment Facilities
  • Gas Stations
  • Schools
  • Restaurants 
  • Cashier
  • Hotels
  • Massage Parlors 

What Employers Should Do to Help Prevent Spread

  • Educate all staff about monkeypox 
  • Inform all employees if they experience any symptoms to stay home and contact their doctor 
  • Provide gloves and other personal protective equipment
  • Ensure there are accessible wash stations to wash hands
  • Disinfect work areas regularly

 

We are all hoping the spread of monkeypox will cease. Until then, do your part and stay safe. If you have not already, subscribe to keep updated.

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