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What is monkeypox?

Also known as hMPXV (monkeypox virus), monkeypox is a rare infectious disease caused by the monkeypox virus. It comes from the family that causes smallpox, though it is different because it is milder and also causes lymph nodes to swell. 

How is it transmitted?

It is transmitted by close contact through someone who has the monkeypox virus. Transmission occurs through direct skin-on-skin contact or through an exchange of body fluids. The virus can also spread by touching contaminated objects (such as bedding or clothing) or through respiratory droplets during direct and prolonged face-to-face contact. It is not a sexually transmitted infection (STI).

What are its signs and symptoms?

If you have been infected with monkeypox, your symptoms would likely start to show about two weeks after infection. Early signs of infection might be similar to those of the flu and could include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Backache
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Chills
  • Exhaustion

One of the telltale signs of monkeypox is a fever that lasts up to three days followed by a rash that develops and spreads to other parts of the body. These fluid-filled blisters (or lesions) will develop and eventually turn into scabs.

How do you treat monkeypox?

If you are experiencing monkeypox symptoms or believe you have been exposed to the monkeypox virus, please contact your medical provider about getting tested for the virus. Your provider will have details about how and where to get tested. If you test positive, you will be able to get a referral for treatment. Antiviral medications are available to treat the monkeypox virus.

If you were exposed to monkeypox but do not have symptoms yet, please talk to your health care provider about getting a vaccination. People who have been in close contact to those with monkeypox or individuals who are at high risk of infection can get vaccinated by their health care provider.

It generally takes two to four weeks for monkeypox lesions to heal. Until that time, you should:

    • Isolate yourself from pets and other people.
    • Cover your rash or lesions.
    • Do not let others touch your skin, especially those areas with a rash.
    • Do not share bedding, towels, dishes or utensils.
    • Wash your hands often.
    • Wash your own laundry and dishes.
    • Routinely clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces and items at home.

If you are experiencing monkeypox symptoms or believe you have been exposed to the monkeypox virus, please contact your provider for more information.

Who can get monkeypox?

Monkeypox has been around for decades and is not limited to one community or another. But, with this specific outbreak, groups at highest risk include men who have had sex with other men, particularly with multiple partners. Again, Monkeypox is not expressly a STD; this specific community just happens to be the first one affected directly by the outbreak.

Another group at high risk is anyone who has had close, prolonged skin-to-skin contact — but not necessarily sexual — with someone who is infected. This includes family or household members, such as roommates.

Who is eligible to receive a monkeypox vaccine?

Vaccines are free and available only to high-risk patients, per specific guidelines set by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These guidelines prioritize people with known or suspected exposure to the virus.

High-risk patients are defined as:

  • Gay, bisexual, and other men or trans people who have sex with men, who have had more than one sexual partner in the past 14 days.
  • Sex workers of any sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • Persons who have had close contact within the past 14 days with someone with suspected or confirmed monkeypox.
  • Persons who had close contact with others at a venue or event or within a social group in the past 14 days where a suspected or confirmed monkeypox case was identified. This includes persons who received notice from a venue or event of a potential exposure within the past 14 days.

If you meet one of the criteria above, you are eligible to schedule a Monkeypox vaccine appointment at one of our upcoming clinics.

See our vaccine clinics