What is Mpox?
Mpox 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 mpox 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 mpox 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 mpox in general.
The risk of contracting mpox is based on exposure – an individual must be exposed to enough virus to become infected. What is currently known about mpox transmission indicates that sharing bedding or towels with someone who is infected with mpox 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 stations, or public transportation are not considered high-risk settings for mpox transmission.
How to protect yourself
There are things you can do to protect yourself from getting mpox:
- Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash that looks like mpox.
- Do not touch the rash or scabs of a person with mpox.
- Do not kiss, hug, cuddle or have sex with someone with mpox.
- Avoid contact with objects and materials that a person with mpox has used.
- Do not share eating utensils or cups with a person with mpox.
- Do not handle or touch the bedding, towels, or clothing of a person with mpox.
- 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 mpox 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 mpox 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 Mpox?
If you have a rash or other mpox 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 mpox. If you do not have a medical provider, you may for additional guidance. Testing for mpox can only be done if a person has a rash, bumps, or sores.
If you have tested positive for mpox, you should stay at home in an area separate from other people and pets, if possible. Ideally, people with mpox 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: