How do you avoid monkey pox at the workplace? Six frequently asked questions

The monkey pox virus is not yet a cause for panic. Nevertheless, it is good to be vigilant. Because prevention is better than cure at the workplace as well. What are the measures you can take to stop the spread of the virus?

1. What is the monkey pox virus and what are its symptoms?

Monkeypox is a rare viral infection that occurs mainly in West and Central Africa. There is a marginal increase in the number of cases in Europe – and Belgium. The virus occurs in rodents, but can therefore also be transmitted to humans.

The initial symptoms of the disease are similar to those of other infectious diseases, but are much milder:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Chills
  • Fatigue

Within the first three days of the incubation period, a blotchy rash occurs that turns into blisters. These dry out and become scabs, which eventually fall off the skin. Most patients recover completely within two to four weeks, but side effects such as pneumonia or inflammation of the brain can also occur. In particular, young children, pregnant women and people with limited immunity are likely to have complications.

2. How does someone get monkeypox?

The monkey pox virus spreads through close contact with an infected person or animal. That contagion occurs mainly through the blisters and scabs on the skin or through saliva droplets during prolonged contact.

3. My employee gets sick on the job, what should I do?

Ask sick employees to go home immediately and get tested, to prevent further infection. The employee may return to work in case the test is negative. If positive, home isolation lasts until the skin has fully recovered. It is better for infected employees to notify everyone with whom they had close contact in the past three weeks, to enable them to monitor themselves for fever, headache and skin symptoms.

4. How do I avoid an outbreak at the workplace?

The main preventive measure is to avoid skin contact with an infected person. Furthermore, the common measures to prevent all infectious diseases, such as regular hand washing and disinfection of the workplace, shall also apply. If an infection does occur in spite of this, isolate the affected colleague immediately. Colleagues who had high-risk contact with the infected person are better advised to work from home, if possible.

5. Is a vaccine against monkeypox available for healthcare personnel?

In the current epidemiological situation and due to the limited availability of vaccines, vaccination at this stage is reserved for healthcare personnel after a high-risk contact with a person with confirmed infection. In cases of non-risk contact, vaccination is not required for the time being. However, the situation will be closely monitored. Keep in mind possible adjustments to the guidelines according to the latest state of affairs.