International Studies & Programs

Travel Health Update: Monkeypox

Monkeypox declared global health emergency; travel risk remains low

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Published: Thursday, 04 Aug 2022 Author: Elke Schmidt

Michigan State University, through its partnerships with the U.S. Department of State, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Ingham County Department of Health, and our overseas programs medical provider International SOS, is closely monitoring monkeypox in relation to our global work and academic programs.

The World Health Organization (WHO) in July declared the rapidly spreading monkeypox outbreak as a global health emergency, the organization's highest level of alert. The U.S. government followed and declared the outbreak as a public health emergency on August 4. Scientists say the window is closing to stop its spread, with cases currently doubling every two weeks, raising concerns that it will take several months for the outbreak to peak.

As of early August 2022, Western Europe and the United States are experiencing the highest number of cases due to the outbreak. Notably, the number of cases in the United States recently jumped by almost 33%, indicating the outbreak might increase more rapidly in the coming days.

At least 16,000 cases have been reported in 74 countries, with most cases occurring in countries that have not historically reported infections. WHO Europe has forecast over 27,000 monkeypox cases in 88 countries by early August.

Despite the WHO declaration and the rising cases, the risk to most members of the MSU community of travelers currently remains low as most recent infections have been the result of close physical contact with someone infected with the monkeypox virus.


  • MSU-sponsored travelers with concerns about monkeypox are advised to contact International SOS, MSU’s international medical and security assistance provider. They have medical specialists who can provide additional information, guidance and consultations as needed.
  • Further information regarding the virus is available on CDC’s Monkeypox resource pages.
Monkeypox infographic. Accessible pdf available version at
Expand/view pdf.

Signs and Symptoms of Monkeypox

  • Monkeypox is a rare disease that is caused by infection with monkeypox virus. The name ‘monkeypox’ comes from the virus’s first discovery in colonies of monkeys kept for research. Since it was first recorded in 1970, monkeypox has been reported in people in several other central and western African countries: Cameroon, Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Liberia, Nigeria, Republic of the Congo, and Sierra Leone. Most infections are in the DRC. Monkeypox cases in people have occurred outside of Africa linked to international travel or imported animals, including cases in the United States.
  • Symptoms: In humans, the symptoms of monkeypox are similar to, but milder, than the symptoms of smallpox. The incubation period (time from infection to symptoms) for monkeypox is usually 7−14 days but can range from 5−21 days, and the illness typically lasts for 2−4 weeks.
    • Early symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, exhaustion, chills, and/or swollen lymph nodes (key difference from smallpox).
    • Later symptoms include a rash, typically beginning on the face and spreading to other parts of the body, and/or lesions.