On July 23, 2022, the Director of the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Monkeypox Virus (MPV) a public health emergency of international concern. A growing number of states, including California, Illinois, and New York, have declared a state of emergency. On August 4, 2022, the U.S. Federal Government declared MPV a public health emergency. Such a designation permits greater access to funding, increased vaccine production and distribution, data sharing, and the like.
Unlike COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), MPV is not an airborne disease, rather it spreads primarily through close, personal, often skin-to-skin contact such as:
- Direct contact with Monkeypox rash, scabs, or body fluids from a person with Monkeypox.
- Touching objects, fabrics (clothing, bedding, or towels), and surfaces that have been used by someone with Monkeypox.
- Contact with respiratory secretions — usually from prolonged face-to-face contact.
- Intimate contact with someone infected with Monkeypox.
According to the CDC, symptoms usually present within three weeks of exposure to the virus. It may take up to four days for a rash to present following onset of flu-like symptoms. The CDC has identified the following symptoms of MPV.
For many businesses, the risk of MPV spread or outbreaks at work is likely low. However, there are considerations employers may want to consider in terms of addressing positive MPV cases in the workplace.
1. Safety Prevention Plans:
CDC and state and local departments of health continue to study the rate and method of transmission of MPV, and as guidance continues to develop, employers may wish to take proactive measures to educate their employees and avoid misinformation in the workplace.
2. Isolation When an Employee is Diagnosed With MPV:
CDC advises that individuals who have MPV should isolate and remain outside of the workplace for the duration of their illness, until all symptoms have resolved.
3. Close Contact Notification and Quarantine:
Other than for employers of healthcare and congregate care settings, the CDC has not issued any guidance regarding whether employers should notify employees who have had direct contact with someone positive for MPV while they were symptomatic.
4. EEO Considerations:
Because one way that MPV can be spread is by sexual contact, employers may want to consider taking steps to avoid the stigma potentially associated with MPV and remind their employees of applicable anti-discrimination and harassment policies.
5. ADA Considerations Regarding Protecting Confidentiality, Medical Inquiries, and Exams:
Employers will want to keep in mind the confidentiality obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act and applicable state and local law. All disability-related medical inquiries and medical examinations of current employees must be job-related and consistent with business necessity.
ASE will continue to monitor the developing MPV guidance relevant to employers. If you have questions about MPV or related employment issues, please reach out to Linda Olejniczak, Director of Research, at [email protected].
Sources: JacksonLewis; CDC