Monkeypox – What You Need to Know

Updated 6/24/2022

Anyone has the potential to get monkeypox, and everyone’s risk is different. We have compiled the most recent information so you can make informed choices when you are in spaces or situations where monkeypox could be spread through close contact. Scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are urging individuals to remain aware of potential symptoms and “practice enhanced precautions.”

What is Monkeypox? 

  • Monkeypox is caused by a virus related to smallpox that typically produces flu-like symptoms, swollen lymph nodes and a rash
  • Monkeypox was first discovered in laboratory monkeys in 1958, and the first human case was identified in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo 
  • Before the current outbreak, monkeypox was mostly seen in Central and West Africa, though cases have periodically been detected elsewhere. 

How is Monkeypox Transmitted?

  • Monkeypox is transmitted through close and/or prolonged contact with someone who exhibits symptoms. This can include:
    • Direct contact with the infectious rash, scabs, or body fluids
    • Contact with contaminated materials (towels, bedding, and clothing)
    • Respiratory droplets spread by prolonged face-to-face interaction
  • Most experts agree that transmission occurs primarily when individuals are symptomatic 

What are the Symptoms of Monkeypox? 

  • Monkeypox symptoms usually begin within two weeks of exposure 
  • Initial symptoms include fever, fatigue, headache, and muscle aches, as well as swollen lymph nodes
    • The most common feature of monkeypox is a rash that usually appears on the face, in the mouth, or elsewhere on the body 
    • Sores caused by the virus, which may be painful or itchy, typically present as flat red spots and progress to firm, raised lesions that fill with clear fluid and then pus 
      • These sores may resemble common sexually transmitted infections 

Who is at Risk for Monkeypox?

  • Anyone can get monkeypox through close personal contact with the virus. 
  • Many cases have been linked to large public events and gatherings 

How Severe is Monkeypox? 

  • Most people with monkeypox recover within two to four weeks 
    • Severe outcomes are more common among children, pregnant people, and immunocompromised people 
      • People on antiretroviral therapy with well-controlled HIV do not appear to be at greater risk, but those with unsuppressed HIV and a low CD4 may encounter medical complications 

How is Monkeypox Treated? 

  • People with mild to moderate monkeypox usually do not require treatment beyond supportive care (i.e. bed rest, over-the-counter medications, etc.) 
  • For more severe cases, antiviral medications may be necessary

Is there a Vaccine for Monkeypox? 

  • Smallpox vaccination can prevent monkeypox as well 
  • Because monkeypox has a long incubation period, vaccines can be administered up to two weeks after exposure, but it is most effective if administered within four days 

What Should I Do If I Have a New Rash, Sores, or Other Symptoms? 

  • Avoid sex or being intimate with anyone until you have been seen by a healthcare provider. 
  • Avoid gatherings, especially if they involve close, personal, skin-to-skin contact 
  • Cover sores with clothing or bandages to lower risk of transmission 
  • Because the virus may be transmitted through respiratory droplets during face-to-face contact, cover coughs and sneezes. 
  • Avoid sharing personal items with others