Health & Wellness
Health Services

Monkeypox (orthopoxvirus) is a viral illness that spreads between individuals through close, personal, skin-to-skin contact. On August 4, 2022, it was declared a public health emergency in the U.S. In the last few months, there have been thousands of monkeypox cases reported throughout the majority of U.S. states and territories, including dozens of cases in Rhode Island.

Additional Resources

In addition to the detailed Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) below, we recommend the following resources:

Frequently Asked Questions

Care and Prevention

Monkeypox (orthopoxvirus) is a viral illness that spreads between individuals through close, personal, skin-to-skin contact.

Monkeypox rash may look like blisters or bumps on your skin, and the CDC has shared that the lesions can be “firm or rubbery, well-circumscribed, deep-seated, and often develop umbilication (resembles a dot on the top of the lesion).” Other monkeypox symptoms include fever, swollen lymph nodes, chills, and other flu-like symptoms.

The rash: 

  • may be located near the genitals, anus, hands, feet, chest or face  
  • can go through several stages including pimples, blisters, open sores and scabs 
  • may be painful or itchy
  • can also be inside the body including the mouth, vagina, or anus.

Monkeypox symptoms usually start within 3 weeks of exposure to the virus.

Anyone who has had close, personal, skin-to-skin contact with someone who has monkeypox is at risk. As of August 2022, gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men make up the majority of monkeypox cases in the US, but the trend may not continue in that direction. Anyone, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity, can contract monkeypox if exposed, and people who have had multiple sex partners in the last month are at increased risk.

The first step is understanding that viruses and bacteria can and do infect people of all gender identities and sexual orientations. For those who do not fall in the current high-impact demographics, everyone has a role to play in supporting their gay and bisexual peers, recognizing the unique impact monkeypox is having on their communities, and de-stigmatizing the disease. For anyone who contracts monkeypox, know you have support at Brown. Staff at the LGBTQ Center, Health Services and CAPS are here to offer guidance, recommendations, and a supportive space to process and plan.

Monkeypox usually lasts 2-4 weeks, or until all sores have healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed. See the section on isolation below if you learn you have monkeypox.

There are very limited treatments specifically for monkeypox and they are only used in severe or unusually high-risk cases. Many people infected with monkeypox have a mild self-limited infection, do not require specific treatment, and manage symptoms as they would the flu. Monkeypox and smallpox viruses are genetically similar, which means that antiviral drugs and vaccines developed to protect against smallpox can be used to prevent and treat monkeypox.

Yes, testing for monkeypox is available through University Health Services for students with signs and/or symptoms consistent with suspected monkeypox. Students should call Health Services at 401-863-3953 to schedule an appointment with a provider. Share during this call that you have a new or unexplained rash or are concerned you might have monkeypox.

Students will be scheduled for the earliest available appointment for assessment and testing if indicated in accordance with RIDOH and CDC guidance.

You can limit your exposure to the virus by minimizing prolonged intimate skin-to-skin contact during social gatherings and limiting your number of sex partners. Additionally, vaccination is a preventative measure that can help protect from the virus.

Students may contact Health Services at 401-863-3953 to schedule an appointment during business hours, and also after hours to speak to a nurse and be connected to the provider on call. 

After hours, students who contact the Administrator On Call at 401-863-3322 about the possibility of exposure to monkeypox can be referred by the AOC to Health Services’ after-hours phone line for consultation.

You will have a visit with a physician, nurse practitioner or physician assistant who will ask you questions about your symptoms, any known or possible exposures, and ask to perform a physical exam. As with any physical exam in Health Services, you may choose to have a chaperone for the exam or choose not to have a chaperone. Testing, prophylaxis (preventive therapy) as well as treatment will be discussed as indicated. Your confidentiality will be maintained consistent with the law, University policy, and health and public health best practices. Cost concerns will not be a barrier to accessing care in Health Services.

Your healthcare provider will advise you regarding antiviral and supportive treatments that are right for you, following guidance from your local department of health. You will be asked to isolate from the time your symptoms begin until all symptoms have resolved, including full healing of the rash with a formation of a fresh layer of skin. The duration of isolation will vary but may last two to four weeks. It will be important for close contacts to be identified so they can be offered prophylaxis vaccine and know to monitor for symptoms. 


Yes. Students who have symptoms suggestive of monkeypox will be required to isolate in accordance with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH). On-campus undergraduate students will be assisted in relocation to temporary housing, though the University may offer guidance to travel home given the length of isolation. Off-campus students can self-isolate in their off-campus housing. Health Services will provide specific isolation guidance and recommendations to all students appropriate to their circumstances.

In the event that an on-campus undergraduate student has to move to temporary housing, we recommend taking comfortable clothing, electronics and chargers, medications, and entertainment items (book, instruments, etc).

Individuals in isolation may go outside to enjoy solo activities like taking a walk, going for a jog, or reading and studying outdoors, provided they cover the skin areas affected by monkeypox.  To protect against potential transmission, we do not recommend inhabiting close spaces with others.

Remember that isolation is temporary and plan to build a routine that allows you to continue engaging in your daily activities. Stay connected with friends and family through text and video chat to maintain social interaction and share your experience. Keep active with a daily exercise of your choice, and pack items that will allow you to continue your hobbies. However, if you feel exhausted or have symptoms that are limiting your activity, it is perfectly fine to rest. There is no need to over-exert yourself during the healing process.

Connect with resources available to you at Brown:

University Health Services clinical providers will assist in determining when isolation can be concluded. The virus can be transmitted until all sores have fully healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed.

Viral Spread

Monkeypox can spread to anyone through close, personal, often skin-to-skin contact.

This includes direct contact with monkeypox rash, scabs, or bodily fluids from a person with monkeypox. It can also spread by touching objects, fabrics (clothing, bedding, towels, sex toys), and surfaces that have been used by someone with monkeypox.

Monkeypox can spread during intimate contact. Intimate contact includes oral, anal, and vaginal sex or touching the genitals (penis, testicles, labia, and vagina) or anus (butthole) of a person with monkeypox. Hugging, massage, kissing, and prolonged face-to-face contact can also spread monkeypox. Monkeypox can spread from the time symptoms begin until all sores have healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed which can take two to four weeks.

No, the two viruses are very different. COVID-19 is more transmissible because it can spread through respiratory means and therefore can be breathed into the body. Monkeypox can spread to anyone through close, personal, often skin-to-skin contact, and in rare cases, through prolonged contact with items or surfaces that have been touched by a person with the virus.

You are a close contact for monkeypox if you have recently engaged in sexual activity or had skin-to-skin contact with someone who has been diagnosed with monkeypox. Close contacts of students diagnosed with monkeypox will be identified by Health Services through a confidential contact tracing process and notified. Health Services can be a resource for accessing preventive treatment. Any student who believes they have been exposed to monkeypox should contact Health Services at 401-863-3953 during business hours to discuss prophylaxis and symptom monitoring.

If you have recently been in direct physical contact with anyone with monkeypox, contact Health Services at 401-863-3953 and continue to monitor yourself for signs of symptoms. This may be a trying time for your friend. Support your friend through their healing process by checking on them regularly through calls, texts, and video chats.

The University will assist in relocating your on-campus roommate and sanitizing your shared room. You do not need to relocate from your room following the sanitization.

A cleaning party will physically clean the room in accordance with CDC recommendations and will appropriately bundle, bag, and seal any bedding, towels, etc. that need to be disinfected and delivered to the subcontracted laundry service. Roommates will be notified once the sanitization process is complete. 

Contact Health Services at 401-863-3953 if you have any questions or concerns about your health.

It is possible but unlikely given that touching a surface is not skin-to-skin contact, and contact with a toilet seat is not prolonged.

It is important to avoid intimate skin-to-skin contact because the virus can be transmitted until all sores have healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed. University Health Services’ clinical providers will assist in determining when isolation can be concluded and, following that determination, you may resume activity.

Currently, there is no documented evidence of this strain of monkeypox being spread via respiratory droplets, but it is a possibility. The CDC is recommending that people with monkeypox wear masks when in close contact with others, and that those providing care to infected individuals should wear a mask out of an abundance of caution.

Condoms may provide some protection against monkeypox, but it has not been verified as a preventative measure. It remains important to take other precautions to limit physical exposure.

Yes, but distancing when possible to avoid skin-to-skin contact will help limit your exposure to the virus if an individual with monkeypox is in your shared space.

Yes, by covering and limiting prolonged skin-to-skin contact, there is less chance for exposure.

If you are unfamiliar with an animal, it would be safest to avoid contact. Monkeypox can infect a variety of animals, including dogs and squirrels, and the virus can be transmitted through close contact including petting, cuddling, hugging, kissing, and sharing sleeping areas and food.


The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is administering the monkeypox vaccination to eligible individuals. Visit the RIDOH page on monkeypox to view requirements for vaccine eligibility and the RIDOH website for more information on how to procure the vaccine. The University is not a vaccination site for the monkeypox vaccine.

Preventive vaccines are currently available for confirmed exposures or high-risk individuals, and availability varies widely across countries including within the U.S. Eligibility, availability, and access to the vaccine is rapidly changing, and Health Services providers are monitoring this closely. Visit the RIDOH page on monkeypox to view requirements for vaccine eligibility and the RIDOH website for more information on how to procure the vaccine.

University Policy

Brown’s plans are based on current public health guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Rhode Island Department of Health. These plans may be modified as the University continues to closely monitor public health information surrounding monkeypox virus and how it is evolving locally, regionally, and around the country. The University will continue to communicate updates to the campus community as the public health situation evolves.

In keeping with prevailing public health and privacy standards, the University will report monkeypox cases to the community only when there is a public health rationale for doing so, such as providing information that would help individuals respond in ways that can help make them safer. For additional information, please refer to the Important Public Health Information and Reminders for Students communication sent on September 2, 2022. Any individual identified as a close contact by Health Services’ contact tracing process will be notified confidentially.


Undergraduates diagnosed with monkeypox may call 401-863-3145 or email to schedule a meeting with a Student Support Dean and/or be connected with appropriate resources. Deans in Student Support Services and in the College will work together to advise students, communicate with faculty, and help students understand their options for completing coursework.  

Doctoral and MFA students may contact Associate Dean of Student Support Services Maria Suarez at

Master’s students may contact Associate Dean of Student Affairs Alicia LaPolla at

Medical students may contact Learning and Accessibility Specialist Lorrie Gehlbach at or Associate Dean for Student Affairs, Roxanne Vrees,


The University will maintain routine sanitization standards, while continuing to advise students about the importance of self-monitoring and following public health and prevention protocols for the health and well-being of the community. Students who are feeling ill should either remain home or attend class remotely, if that option is available.

No, your health diagnoses will remain confidential and not be disclosed to these individuals unless you choose to do so.

Parents & Families

Your student may have a hard time processing their diagnosis and adjusting to their time in temporary housing. The disease is transmissible and can be contracted by anyone, so please remind your student they are not at fault. Additionally, social interaction will help them to remain engaged during their isolation period, so check in on them when possible. 

Access the Campus Life website for more information on available resources.