What is Mpox?

Mpox is a rare disease caused by the mpox virus, a type of orthopox virus related to variola and vaccinia viruses.
It is typically seen in Central and Western Africa. The natural reservoir is unknown, but is suspected to be rodents. Transmission of mpox virus occurs from animals to human through bites, scratches, or direct contact with animal body fluids. Human-to-human transmission is thought to occur primarily through large respiratory droplets and requires prolonged face-to-face contact. It can also occur through direct contact with body fluids or lesion material, or indirect contact through contaminated bedding or clothing.

Symptoms of mpox infection start approximately 7-14 days after exposure but can range from 5-21 days. Initial symptoms are typically flu-like including fever, headache, muscle and back aches, lymphadenopathy, chills, and exhaustion.

Within 1-3 days of the flu-like symptoms, the patient develops a rash. Lesions typically begin to develop simultaneously and evolve together. The rash progresses through 4 stages – macular, papular (small like a pimple), vesicular (fluid-filled like a blister), to pustular (pus-filled) – before scabbing over and resolving. This process happens over a period of 2-3 weeks.

Mpox is spread through direct, often intimate, contact.  At this time, the risk of transmission within a school setting is considered to be low.

Is This a Reportable Illness?

If you an individual in your school community is diagnosed with mpox, please reach out to the Chicago Department of Public Health Youth Settings team for further assistance at schoolscd@cityofchicago.org or (312)-746-6015.  After hours, call 311 and ask for the medical director on call.

What do schools need to do next? 

  • Accommodations should be made for the individual to telework or learn remotely until all scabs have fallen off and new skin has formed, which usually takes around 3 weeks.
    • Provide education on importance of hand hygiene and avoiding scratching areas.
  • Close contacts do not need to be excluded.
    • If contacts are identified, this can assist CDPH’s risk assessment and evaluation for needing post-exposure vaccination.
  • Routine cleaning and disinfection protocols can be used on hard surfaces; gloves and gowns should be worn by individuals performing laundry on clothing, towels, or blankets used by someone infected with the mpox rash.