What is Monkeypox?
Monkeypox is a virus that can cause a rash, bumps, or sores on or near the genitals, or anal area, but also on other areas like the hands, feet, chest, face, or mouth. These sores can be very painful.
The monkeypox virus can also cause flu-like symptoms like fever, headache, muscle aches and backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion, sore throat, nasal congestion, and cough.
How does Monkeypox spread?
- person-to-person through direct contact with the 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 items (such as clothing or linens) that previously touched the infectious rash or body fluids is another way monkeypox spreads but has not been identified to be a common mode of transmission in this outbreak or for monkeypox in general.
The risk of contracting monkeypox is based on exposure – an individual must be exposed to enough virus to become infected. What is currently known about monkeypox transmission indicates that sharing bedding or towels with someone who is infected with monkeypox would carry more risk than passing encounters with money or a door handle or other environmental surfaces.
Most settings where people congregate such as workplaces, schools, grocery stores, gas station, or public transportation are not considered high risk settings for monkeypox transmission.
How to protect yourself
There are things you can do to protect yourself from getting 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 the signs and symptoms?
People with monkeypox get a rash that may be located on or near the genitals or anal area 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)
What should I do if I think I might have Monkeypox?
If you have a rash or other monkeypox symptoms, you should stay home and call your medical provider. Call before visiting your provider and let them know you have signs and symptoms of monkeypox. If you do not have a medical provider, you may for additional guidance. Testing for monkeypox can only be done if a person has a rash, bumps, or sores.
If you have tested positive for monkeypox, you should stay at home in an area separate from other people and pets, if possible. Ideally, people with monkeypox should stay home until the rash has fully healed, the scabs have fallen off, and a fresh layer of skin has formed. This can take up to 2 - 4 weeks in most cases. If the sores are very painful or making it difficult for you to eat, drink, or go to the bathroom, contact your medical provider for pain management. You can read the full isolation guidance here: