To: Caltech Students
From: John Tsai, Medical Director of Student Health Services
This week, California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency over the rapidly spreading monkeypox virus. The state is one of three in the United States to make such a declaration and to mobilize emergency health personnel in response to the World Health Organization's declaration of monkeypox as a global health emergency on July 23.
Monkeypox is a rare disease that is caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. Monkeypox is of public health concern because the monkeypox virus is currently spreading rapidly through new modes of transmission that are not fully understood. We do know that the disease can be spread when a person comes into direct contact with infected humans, animals, and materials (such as clothing or linens).
I write to inform our community of Caltech Student Wellness Services' response to monkeypox and to provide access to information and resources about this disease and the preventative measures that will help to mitigate its spread. Please note that while the current monkeypox situation is constantly evolving, public health officials report that the risk to the U.S. population remains low. While Pasadena reported its first cases of monkeypox on Tuesday, August 2, there are no reported cases of monkeypox within the Caltech community.
Caltech Student Wellness Services (SWS) is working closely with local health authorities to monitor the situation and to facilitate access to public health resources for eligible members of our community.
With limited national supplies of monkeypox vaccine, public health authorities have prioritized the administration of as many first doses of monkeypox vaccine as possible to individuals who are designated as being at high risk. This includes individuals who
- are confirmed to have had a high- or intermediate-risk contact with someone with monkeypox; or
- are gay or bisexual men and transgender persons
- who were diagnosed with gonorrhea or early syphilis within the past 12 months;
- are on HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis; or
- have attended or worked at a commercial sex venue where they had anonymous sex or sex with multiple partners within the past 21 days.
If you think that you may have monkeypox or believe you are eligible for the vaccine under the criteria outlined above, please contact your healthcare provider. Students within the Caltech community may consult confidentially with a health professional in Student Wellness Services by calling SWS at 626-395-6393 (Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.) or by sending a secure message through the Student Health Portal.
Additional information on monkeypox, how it spreads, how it is treated, and how you can prevent transmission is available on SWS's About Monkeypox webpage.