What is monkeypox?
Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. Monkeypox virus is part of the same family of viruses as variola virus, the virus that causes smallpox. Monkeypox symptoms are similar to smallpox symptoms, but milder, and monkeypox is rarely fatal. Monkeypox is not related to chickenpox.
How does monkeypox spread?
Monkeypox is spread through:
- direct contact with an infectious rash, scabs, or body fluids
- respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact, or during intimate physical contact, such as kissing, cuddling, or sex
- touching objects, fabrics (such as clothing or linens) that previously touched the rash or body fluids of someone with monkeypox
- being scratched or bitten by an infected animal
How can I avoid monkeypox?
- 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 monkeypox.
- Do not kiss, hug, cuddle or have sex with someone with monkeypox.
- Avoid contact with objects and materials that a person with monkeypox has used.
- Do not share eating utensils or cups with a person with monkeypox.
- 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.
What are monkeypox symptoms?
People with monkeypox get a rash that may be located on or near the genitals (penis, testicles, labia, and vagina) or anus (butthole) and could be on other areas like the hands, feet, chest, face, or mouth.
The rash will go through several stages, including scabs, before healing.
The rash can initially look like pimples or blisters and may be painful or itchy.
Other symptoms of monkeypox can include:
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Muscle aches and backache
- Respiratory symptoms (e.g. sore throat, nasal congestion, or cough)
You may experience all or only a few symptoms Sometimes, people have flu-like symptoms before the rash. Some people get a rash first, followed by other symptoms. Others only experience a rash.
How long do monkeypox symptoms last?
Monkeypox symptoms usually start within three weeks of exposure to the virus. If someone has flu-like symptoms, they will usually develop a rash one to four days later.
Monkeypox can be spread from the time symptoms start until the rash has healed, all scabs have fallen off, and a fresh layer of skin has formed. The illness typically lasts two to four weeks.
What should I do if I suspect I have monkeypox?
If you suspect you have been exposed to monkeypox or have it, contact your personal physician or a public health clinic in your area for instructions on what to do.
How is monkeypox treated?
There are no treatments specifically for monkeypox virus infections. However, monkeypox and smallpox viruses are genetically similar, which means that antiviral drugs and vaccines developed to protect against smallpox may be used to prevent and treat monkeypox virus infections.
Antivirals, such as tecovirimat (TPOXX), may be recommended for people who are more likely to get severely ill, like patients with weakened immune systems.
If you have symptoms of monkeypox, you should talk to your healthcare provider, even if you don’t think you had contact with someone who has monkeypox.
Most people with monkeypox recover fully within two to four weeks without the need for medical treatment.
Is there a vaccine for monkeypox?
There is a vaccine for monkeypox but it is not widely available at this time. We will continue to provide updates on availability.
Additional information from the CDC:
What You Need to Know about Monkeypox if you are a Teen or Young Adult:
Monkeypox and Safer Sex (English and Español):
(Source: Centers for Disease Control)