Monkeypox Guidance for the Workplace
The monkeypox virus is related to the smallpox virus – although it is rarely fatal and the symptoms are milder. Typically, those with a weak immune system, past skin conditions, and young children are more likely to suffer serious effects from contracting monkeypox.
At this time, the federal government declared monkeypox a public health emergency. However, in states like Colorado, because monkeypox is rarely fatal and is not a novel virus, additional sick leave for monkeypox is not required under public health emergency leave laws.
What are the symptoms of monkeypox?
- Muscle aches and backache
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Respiratory symptoms (e.g. sore throat, nasal congestion, or cough)
- A rash on areas like the hands, feet, chest, genitals, face, or mouth.
- The rash will go through several stages, including scabs, before healing.
- The rash can look like pimples or blisters and may be painful or itchy.
How is monkeypox contracted?
Monkeypox is spread from someone having monkeypox who makes contact with another person via rash, scabs, or bodily fluids. Contact leading to the spread of monkeypox can occur directly from person-to-person or through fabrics, objects, and surfaces used or touched by someone with monkeypox.
How long does someone carry the monkeypox virus?
Typically 2-4 weeks, and the monkeypox virus is contagious until rashes are completely healed. Patients with monkeypox are treated with antiviral medicine.
- Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash that looks like monkeypox.
- Do not touch the rash or scabs of a person with monkeypox.
- Do not kiss, hug, cuddle or have sex with someone with monkeypox.
- Avoid contact with objects and materials that a person with monkeypox has used.
- Do not share eating utensils or cups with a person with monkeypox.
- Do not handle or touch the bedding, towels, or clothing of a person with monkeypox.
- Wash hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially before eating or touching your face and after you use the bathroom.
- Not coming into work if they have any signs and symptoms of monkeypox.
Employees experiencing signs or symptoms of monkeypox should not come to the workplace and inform management of their need to stay home, obtain care, and take leave. Company policies should also allow for employees to take care of a family member who has monkeypox.