May is Mental Health Awareness month. We’re proud to join the movement to bring more awareness to mental health issues that are facing your employees and communities.
If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (En Español: 1-888-628-9454; Deaf and Hard of Hearing: 1-800-799-4889) or the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.
Luckily, that’s not very likely, primarily because it’s much harder to spread. While it’s still possible, the good news is that monkeypox spreads mostly through direct contact. Where COVID spreads through aerosolized particles that spread through the air, monkeypox spreads through body fluids, contact with lesions, and respiratory droplets - which are larger than the tiny microscopic particles that spread COVID. And even then, monkeypox primarily spreads through prolonged skin to skin contact, which is why so much of the transmission in this case appears to be sexual or household-based. It’s also just less transmissible in general - COVID has mutated to be incredibly infectious, and monkeypox, at least in its current form, is not nearly as easily spread. And last but most certainly not least, is the fact that it’s so closely related to smallpox, a disease that we have a vaccine for and have successfully eradicated worldwide. So, is it a concern? Yes. It has been for years, and countries like Nigeria have been sounding the alarm long before this outbreak. But is it likely to have the same years-long global impact as COVID? No.
Not yet. If you’re under 50, there’s a pretty good chance you don’t have the smallpox vaccine, since it’s been eradicated worldwide since 1980. But don’t run to get vaccinated for smallpox just yet - you probably wouldn’t be able to! While there is a vaccine and the U.S. has a pretty solid supply of it, you can’t waltz into a CVS pharmacy and get one. If public health officials decide that it’s necessary for the general public to get vaccinated, they’ll let us know and distribute more of it. If you were actually exposed to someone who has monkeypox, call your doctor - they may suggest some combination of vaccine, antiviral, or immune globulin. Otherwise, for most people, you can just sit tight and know that if a larger outbreak occurs, vaccines may be made more widely available.
First, this is extremely rare, so if you hear that an employee has monkeypox, you should do some digging first before you jump into action, especially if it’s not coming from an official source. If an employee is genuinely suspected to have or is diagnosed with monkeypox, first make sure they don’t come in to work! Then, send home anyone who lives with them or is dating them. Monkeypox is primarily spread through prolonged close contact, so people who share a residence or bed are the most likely to be infected. Send them home until you get a doctor’s note clearing them to work. The CDC is closely monitoring this outbreak, and might instruct them to quarantine for a length of time. Clean and disinfect the restaurant, and be sure to wash any linens or clothes the sick employee used. Be very careful to avoid contact and to avoid shaking them out, if possible, since there are likely virus particles on the linens. You may consider reinstating daily wellness check surveys, since the initial symptoms of monkeypox are fever and other flu-like symptoms, and could be identified through symptom surveys. You should also be prepared for a visit from the health department - we’d be shocked if in a monkeypox case (or even a suspected one) they didn’t stop by.
Monkeypox is a large enveloped virus, which is a good thing in this case! It means that pretty much any standard disinfectant will work to destroy the virus, by removing the coating that holds the rest of the virus together. Whatever disinfectant you are already using is almost certainly sufficient for killing monkeypox. Similarly, washing linens or clothes in warm water is plenty to kill the virus on those items, though they should be handled with care to avoid spreading virus particles.
This week doesn’t feel like one for laughing. We’re heartbroken and angry about the mass shootings that have taken place over the past few weeks in Buffalo, Southern California, and Uvalde, TX. We work in public health, and it feels important to note that gun violence and racism are public health crises that require urgency, funding, and focus - immediately. We’re spending this week thinking about how we can make change in our own community (which includes you all). We’ve made a donation to Everytown for Gun Safety in lieu of a Best Laugh this week.