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BPHC Shares Monkeypox Guidance to Educate Community on Symptoms and Prevention Measures

The Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) recommends non-stigmatizing approach to Monkeypox response.

The Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) is updating the public on cases of monkeypox in Boston and offering guidance to health care providers and the public on how to identify and prevent the spread of monkeypox and support a non-stigmatizing public health response. This guidance comes amid a global outbreak that has accounted for over 2,000 cases in countries that don’t normally see cases worldwide. Cases have been confirmed in 25 states, including Massachusetts where 13 cases have been reported as of June 23.   

Monkeypox is spread from person to person through close physical contact, and anyone who has close physical contact with someone who has monkeypox is at risk. While many of the current cases appear to be spreading through close contact in sexual and social networks among men who have sex with men, the risk of monkeypox is not limited to people who are sexually active or men who have sex with men. Anyone can get monkeypox and stigmatizing the disease and people who contract it is harmful both to individuals and the ability to respond to this outbreak. Instead, BPHC recommends providers share non-judgmental information on disease prevention, modes of transmission, and symptoms to patients and support all people in knowing their risks and how to protect themselves. 

“While the number of monkeypox cases is currently low, it's important that everyone has the information they need to care for their health,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “The City of Boston and the Boston Public Health Commission are working closely with providers and local organizations to ensure all communities understand what monkeypox is and how to prevent it. Through proactive education and engagement we can support everyone in staying healthy." 

BPHC’s priority is to advocate a non-stigmatizing public health response, to raise awareness about monkeypox to help people recognize the symptoms early on so they can isolate and seek care; to support health authorities’ and medical providers’ ability to identify cases early and notify close contacts; and to ensure individuals have the information and tools to protect themselves from potential infection.  

 “Monkeypox infection remains rare. As we anticipate an increase in cases, the Boston Public Health Commission is educating residents, supporting providers in identifying cases, and helping all people understand this disease,” said Dr. Bisola Ojikutu, Commissioner of Public Health and Executive Director of the Boston Public Health Commission. “As an infectious disease doctor specializing in HIV, I’ve seen how stigma can undermine public health responses. Anyone can contract monkeypox. Therefore, it's important that everyone knows the symptoms and that no one is deterred from seeking care because of stigma.” 

Below is key information for Boston residents to know about monkeypox. Additional information about how residents can protect themselves, prevent the spread of monkeypox, and respond if they believe they have monkeypox is available on BPHC’s website. This information is available in Arabic, Chinese, French, Haitian Creole, Portuguese, Somali, Spanish, Vietnamese. 

The most common symptom of monkeypox is a rash that can look like pimples or blisters that appear on the face, inside the mouth, and on other parts of the body, like the hands, feet, chest, genitals, or anus. However, the rash often appears 1-3 days (sometimes longer) after other flu-like symptoms including: 

  • Fever 
  • Headache 
  • Muscle aches 
  • Backache 
  • Swollen lymph nodes 
  • General feeling of discomfort and exhaustion 

A person with monkeypox is considered infectious from the beginning of symptoms. They can remain infectious until sores have crusted, scabbed over, fallen off, and a fresh layer of healthy skin has formed underneath. 

Monkeypox spreads through close, often skin-to-skin contact, such as: 

  • Direct contact with monkeypox rash, sores, or scabs.  
  • Sexual contact of any kind or touching of the genitals or anus of a person with monkeypox.  
  • Hugging, massaging, or kissing.  
  • Talking closely through respiratory droplets or oral fluids from a person with monkeypox.  
  • Contact with objects such as clothing, bedding, sex toys, or towels.  
  • Contact with surfaces used by someone with monkeypox. 

People can protect themselves and others from getting infected with monkeypox by: 

  • Avoiding physical and sexual contact with anyone who has a new rash or sores or who feels ill.   
  • Talking to their partners about recent illness. 
  • Being aware of new or unexplained sores or rashes on their or their partner's body, including the genitals and anus. 
  • Avoiding touching any rashes or sores on others. 
  • Minimizing skin-to-skin contact, especially at raves, parties, or large events. 

For more information on how to protect yourself and others from monkeypox and what to do if you think you may have monkeypox, visit BPHC’s website and the CDC’s factsheet on Social Gatherings, Safer Sex, and Monkeypox

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