Like the “Swine Flu” from over a decade ago, the name “Monkeypox” causes one to sit up and take notice. Combined with the last two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s enough to inspire one to scream, “Enough already!”

On July 23, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared monkeypox to be a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern” and issued a set of recommendations. Here’s the scoop. Monkeypox is transmitted through skin-to-skin contact unlike COVID-19, which is transmitted through the air. So, the odds for infection are far lower. Still, it’s important to consider precautions.

No employer action required
With the exception of our healthcare heroes, monkeypox is viewed as a public health hazard and not a workplace hazard. At the moment, there are no specific federal or state rules addressing monkeypox precautions in the workplace. It’s possible the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) may issue workplace guidance in the future, but at this time employers do not need to start protocols akin to COVID-19.

It should be noted employees who contract or who are treated for monkeypox may have protections under federal and state law. For example, monkeypox could be considered a serious health condition under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) that entitles employees to a qualifying leave for treatment and reinstatement to their job. The employee may also have protections under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) if the disease were to be considered a “disability” entitling the employee to leave for treatment or an “accommodation” upon returning to work if the disease were to result in a disability.

The WHO states the incubation period of monkeypox is usually 6 to 13 days but can range from 5 to 21 days.

The CDC Statement
The CDC is saying an outbreak of monkeypox is spreading across the U.S., but that more than “99% of people who get this disease are likely to survive.” They did add that “people with weakened immune systems, children under 8 years of age, people with a history of eczema, and people who are pregnant or breastfeeding may be more likely to get seriously ill or die.”

In addition:

Monkeypox can be divided into two periods:

As we’ve said a few to many times over the past two years, please be safe out there!