Monkeypox (Mpox/MPX) Awareness and Safety Information for UC Berkeley Employees

August 15, 2022


The risk of getting infected with Monkeypox (Mpox/MPX) is very low for the general public.  However, as this comes on the heels of the Coronavirus and all the public health concerns that it has raised, it’s important to get informed about the risks of MPXand what you can do to protect yourself.  

The campus Workplace Safety Program empowers and expects all employees to integrate health and safety considerations into their decisions and activities. Managers and supervisors have particular responsibility for identifying and planning the controls for workplace hazards in the activities of their employees. In addition, they are responsible for allocating the resources needed to address these requirements and investigating cases. The goal ─ to prevent work-related injuries and illnesses ─ is best achieved through inclusive and collaborative efforts among all levels of the campus community.

Unlike COVID-19, the MPX virus is not as transmissible in the workplace according to Cal/OSHA. MPX spreads primarily through direct contact with infectious sores, scabs, or body fluids. Existing work practices that prevent COVID-19 also reduce the risk of MPX transmission. If employees have concerns about MPX exposure, hazards, or work practices that put them at risk, they should discuss this with their supervisor. EH&S and University Health Services (UHS) may be consulted for further questions and information.

EH&S is available for assistance with assessing and controlling job hazards in the workplace.  E-mail ehs@berkeley.eduor call (510) 642-3073.

About MPX

Monkeypox (Mpox/MPX) is spread by close physical contact (including sexual contact) with someone who has symptoms or by touching contaminated items, like clothing and bedding. It can cause flu-like symptoms and/or a distinct rash that can be bumpy or fluid-filled on the face, body, genitals, arms, and legs.  It may also be limited to one part of the body.   

If you have symptoms of MPX, isolate yourself from others and contact a health care provider right away to get checked.  Currently, the risk of getting MPX is very low.  

Health Guidance

University Health Services (UHS) has posted information on MPX; please review the information available there.

Additional information on MPX is available from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and California Department of Public Health (CDPH).

Symptoms & Infection


Symptoms of MPX infection include:

  • A skin rash, and blisters may appear
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Body aches
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Respiratory tract symptoms (like cough, nasal congestion or sore throat)


MPX is spread in a few ways:

  • Through very close contact with an infected person, often skin-to-skin contact with rash lesions
  • Sexual intimate contact, including kissing
  • Living in a house and sharing a bed with an infected person
  • Sharing towels and unwashed clothing
  • By respiratory droplets, usually through close, prolonged face-to-face interactions
  • Touching objects used by a person with MPX
  • A person with MPX can spread it to others from the time symptoms start until all sores have healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed. 
  • The illness typically lasts 2-4 weeks

Protecting Yourself

  • Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash that looks like monkeypox.

    • Do not touch the rash or scabs of a person with MPX.

    • Do not kiss, hug, cuddle or have sex with someone with MPX.

  • Avoid contact with objects and materials that a person with MPX has used.

    • Do not share eating utensils or cups with a person with MPX.

    • Do not handle or touch the bedding, towels, or clothing of a person with monkeypox.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially before eating or touching your face and after you use the bathroom.

  • Routinely disinfect common, high-touch surfaces (recommended)

  • Vaccines are limited, but are expected to increase.  UHS will provide further information when it becomes available.

Workplace Exposure Considerations 

Job tasks that require contact with soiled linens, exposed skin, or prolonged face-to-face contact may have an increased risk of exposure to MPX.  Discuss job hazards with your supervisor.  EH&S is available to assist with hazard assessment and identifying appropriate work practices, by calling (510) 642-3073 or

Workplace Hazards & MPX

MPX is not a significant workplace hazard. However, employees should evaluate their specific work tasks to decide if MPX hazards should be addressed and controlled. The Job Safety Analysis (JSA) tool helps employees and supervisors review job tasks, determine hazards, and identify controls.  EH&S can assist with the development of a JSA if needed.

Working When Sick

As has been the campus practice during Coronavirus, employees experiencing any symptoms associated with MPX or COVID-19 should not come to work.  Stay home, report your illness to your supervisor, and contact your primary care provider if you need medical assistance.

Skin Contact

Service staff should avoid skin-to-skin contact with others who may be infected with MPX. Service uniforms should include long-sleeve shirts and pants.  Disposable gloves are an effective barrier for the hands. If you have any cuts or open wounds, cover them with a bandage. Wash hands with soap and warm water often.

Airborne Transmission

Airborne Transmission is Not a Significant Risk and likely requires prolonged face-to-face exposure. 

  • Current guidance on MPX refers to prolonged face-to-face or physical contact with an infected person as a risk of transmission, including kissing, hugging, and massaging. 

  • Precautions for COVID-19, such as face coverings and physical distancing, also reduce the risk of transmission from a person infected with MPX. The CDC recommends that face coverings are worn when within 6 feet of an infected person for more than a brief encounter when there is an infected person in the home (see Isolation and Infection Control in the Home). Keep in mind that COVID-19 is still a significant public health threat and precautions should continue; these precautions will also provide protection against MPX.

Contaminated Objects and Laundry

The MPX virus is easily killed by EPA-registered disinfectants that are in use for Coronavirus.  Disinfection practices used for COVID-19 are effective for MPX virus, too.

Focus on disinfecting high-touch objects and items or surfaces that come into direct contact with the skin.

Contaminated Fabrics

Contaminated fabrics such as bedding, clothing, and towels that have been used by an infected person present a risk of infection to service staff who may handle them.  The CDC has relevant guidance for the Disinfection of the Home and Non-Healthcare Settings that can instruct campus practices as well.  Key information from this document includes the following:

  • At a minimum, wear disposable gloves, and a well-fitted mask or respirator when handling potentially contaminated fabrics.  Employees may request voluntary use of an N95 respirator.

  • Clothing that covers the skin should be worn by service staff.  This may include long-sleeved shirts and long pants, and/or a disposable gown.

  • Safety glasses

  • Do not shake fabrics or laundry when handling them.

  • Wash hands with liquid soap and warm water after laundering activities.  If handwashing facilities are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer, followed by handwashing when a sink is available.

  • Do not dry dust or sweep rooms as this may spread infectious particles.

  • Use wet cleaning methods such as disinfecting wipes, sprays, and mopping.

  • Vacuuming is okay if the vacuum has a high-efficiency (HEPA) air filter.  If not, service staff should wear a well-fitting face covering or respirator when vacuuming.

  • Generally speaking, precautions for COVID-19 provide equivalent protection to service staff.

Restroom and Drinking Fountain Cleaning and Disinfection

Cleaning and disinfection practices for COVID-19 are appropriate for MPX concerns in restrooms and at drinking fountains.

Trash Handling

As with COVID-19, trash handling is not a significant risk of infection, and current waste management practices are appropriate.  

Utensil Washing

As with COVID-19, washing utensils is not a significant risk of infection and current practices are appropriate.