News & Updates

Monkeypox Update

Written by James Willette, Ph.D.
August 16, 2022

Note: This message was sent to all incoming and continuing students on August 16, 2022 via SU email.

The university continually monitors public health concerns including the recent global monkeypox outbreak.  Monkeypox is a disease that is spread through close physical or skin-to-skin contact. The disease can cause a rash and flu-like illness. Infections with the strain of monkeypox virus identified in the recent U.S. outbreak are rarely fatal and most people recover in 2-4 weeks.  As of mid-August, there have been fewer than 300 cases identified in King County. 

According to the CDC anyone who has high-risk contact with a person with monkeypox can be infected. Demand for monkeypox vaccine is high and the supply is extremely limited; the CDC has prioritized vaccines for members of the community who also meet other eligibility criteria. Vaccination is not currently recommended for members of the public who are not at high risk of recent exposure to monkeypox. 

Currently, the evidence strongly suggests that students are not at risk from everyday interactions with other students.  According to the CDC, monkeypox is spread through the following routes:

  • Close physical, and often direct skin to skin, contact with rash, sores, or scabs from a person infected with monkeypox. CDC believes this is currently the most common way that monkeypox is spreading in the U.S.
  • Monkeypox can be transmitted during sex through skin-to-skin and other intimate sexual contact.
  • Contact with objects, fabrics (clothing, bedding, or towels), and surfaces that have been used by someone with monkeypox.
  • Through respiratory droplets or oral fluids (saliva) through kissing and other face-to-face contact. 

Students should contact their healthcare provider immediately for an evaluation if they develop a new, unexplained, rash or lesions on any part of the body and avoid sexual activity or other close, intimate contact until they have been examined. In King County, symptomatic patients can be evaluated at the Public Health – Seattle & King County Sexual Health Clinic at Harborview.

In the event a student living in university housing is diagnosed with a confirmed case of monkeypox, the university will provide alternative housing arrangements and support services. Students with a confirmed case of monkeypox should notify the Student Health Center at 206-296-6300 or  Seattle University students can also access TimelyCare 24 hours per day, 7 days per week for on demand medical and mental health telehealth services with no out-of-pocket cost or insurance requirement.

More information about monkeypox, including considerations for lowering risk, can be found on the Public Health - Seattle/King County website.  Information about Seattle University health and wellness resources can be found on the Office of the Dean of Students website.

The university will continue to monitor the outbreak and will follow the recommendations from Public Health – Seattle/King County and the CDC as more information becomes available. 


James Willette, Ph.D.
Associate Provost & Dean of Students