About Monkeypox (MPX)
Monkeypox (MPX) is a rare viral illness. Anyone can get MPX, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Since mid-May 2022, cases of MPX have been identified in the U.S., where cases don't normally occur.
MPX symptoms often include a rash that can look like pimples or blisters. The rash can appear on the face, inside the mouth, and on other parts of the body, like the hands, feet, chest, genitals, or anus.
Other symptoms of MPX can include:
- Fever or chills
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Body aches (including muscle and back)
Some people do not have symptoms before a rash. The rash begins as a flat rash, then progresses to raised bumps which become filled with fluid (poxes). Eventually the rash crusts over and scabs develop. Some people may have only one sore, bump, or blister. This may look different from pictures you see online.
A person is infectious from symptom onset until scabs fall off and a fresh layer of healthy skin has formed. The illness can last for about 2-4 weeks. Most people do not have serious complications from MPX but will need to stay home until they are no longer infectious.
How it spreads
MPX is spread through direct and indirect contact with the virus.
- Human-to-human transmission:
- Prolonged direct contact with body fluids or skin lesions (i.e., skin to skin contact) is the most common mode of human-to-human transmission.
- Transmission via respiratory particles can also occur but usually requires prolonged face-to-face contact.
- Clothing, bedding, and other objects:
- Transmission can occur from contact with contaminated clothing/bedding/towels or other objects used by a person with MPX.
- Animal-to-human transmission:
- Animal-to-human transmission may occur through a bite or scratch, preparation of wild game, and direct or indirect contact with body fluids or rash material (not a mode of transmission in the U.S.).
Symptoms develop approximately 12 days after a person has been exposed but may be as early as 5 days and as late as 21 days.
Take the following steps to prevent or decrease your risk for getting MPX:
- Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact, and sex (oral, anal, vaginal) with people whose infection status is unknown or with a history of recent travel to areas that are part of the current MPX outbreak.
- Having multiple or anonymous sex partners may increase your chances for exposure to MPX. Limiting your number of sex partners may reduce the possibility of exposure.
- Talk to your partner about any recent illness and be aware of new or unexplained rash on your body or your partner's body, including the genitals and anus. If you or your partner have recently been sick, currently feel sick, or have a new or an unexplained rash, do not have sex and see a health care provider.
- Avoid close contact with people who have a rash that looks like MPX.
- Do not touch the rash or scabs of a person with MPX.
- Do not kiss, hug, cuddle, or have sex with someone with MPX.
- Do not share eating utensils or cups with a person with MPX.
- Do not handle or share the bedding, towels, or clothing used by a person with MPX.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Each person needs to determine their level of risk and make their own choices when it comes to having sex. The CDC: Safer Sex, Social Gatherings, and Monkeypox prevention measures can be helpful in reducing the risk of acquiring monkeypox during sexual activity.
At this time, it is not known if MPX can spread through semen, vaginal fluids, or other body fluids. We are trying to learn more.
Two vaccines are currently authorized or approved in the U.S. to prevent MPX, JYNNEOS and ACAM2000. JYNNEOS is currently being used internationally to address MPX. Vaccine for monkeypox is limited. To best reach people who are at highest risk of MPX, we are working with a wide range of clinics, including health systems, public health clinics, community clinics, and sexual health clinics. If you are at highest risk and would like to get vaccinated, start by contacting your primary provider or one of the types of clinics mentioned. Learn more about who is at highest risk at Monkeypox Vaccine in Minnesota.
If you have a new rash, sore, pimple-like bump, or blister, get tested. Only people who have a rash can get tested for MPX. You may be asked questions about sexual activity/behaviors by your provider. You do not have to answer these questions, but the questions help the provider to determine if testing for MPX is necessary. The MPX rash may resemble sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as syphilis or herpes. If you are sexually active, consider STI testing as well.
Consult with a health care provider. If you do not have a health care provider, consider one of the following free or low-cost testing sites:
- Red Door Clinic/ Hennepin County Public Health
525 Portland Avenue South, Minneapolis MN
- Clinic 555 / Ramsey County Public Health
555 Cedar Street, St. Paul MN
- Directory of Family Planning Services
Listing of publicly funded programs throughout Minnesota.
- Health Centers
Information about Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), including a link to search for a health center.
There is no specific treatment for MPX, although treatment with an antiviral may be beneficial for some individuals. Tecovirimat (TPOXX) is an antiviral that may be recommended for people who are more likely to get severely ill, like patients with weakened immune systems.
In certain situations, people who have been exposed to someone with MPX may benefit from receiving a MPX vaccine. These vaccines are not yet widely available. Public health will work to determine when vaccine should be recommended.
- Monkeypox: Get the Facts (PDF)
- How to Prevent Monkeypox (MPX) (PDF)
- MCN: New Low-Literacy Monkeypox Resource, in English & Spanish
Migrant Clinicians Network simple resource in English and Spanish that helps explain the spread of MPX, as well as identifying symptoms and isolation strategies for those who may be infected.