What is mpox?
Mpox is an infection caused by the monkeypox virus. The monkeypox virus is part of the same family of viruses as the virus that causes smallpox Smallpox Smallpox is a highly contagious, very deadly disease caused by the variola virus. The disease is now considered eliminated. There have been no cases of smallpox since 1977. People can acquire... read more . But, mpox is less serious than smallpox. Mpox is not related to chicken pox.
Mpox can cause a rash that looks like pimples or blisters
Symptoms usually last 2 to 4 weeks
Mpox can spread to anyone through close, personal contact
Most cases of mpox don't need specific treatment, but some cases are treated with medicines
A vaccine to prevent mpox is available
Mpox is rarely fatal
In 2022, mpox cases were reported in countries that do not usually have mpox infections, but the number of new cases in the United States has dramatically decreased since the peak in August 2022. Before 2022, mpox most often caused disease in Central and West Africa.
What are the symptoms of mpox?
A rash is the most common symptom of mpox. The mpox rash:
May be painful or itchy
Begins as flat, red spots
Turns into raised blisters that look like pimples
Often starts on or near your genitals or in your mouth
Can also be on your hands, feet, chest, face, or mouth
Crusts and scabs over before healing
Other symptoms may occur before, during, or after the rash appears:
Feeling extremely tired
Swollen lymph nodes (sometimes called "swollen glands")
Symptoms may start 1 to 3 weeks after you get infected. You can spread the virus to someone else from the time symptoms start. You stop being able to spread the virus once all lesions have crusted over, scabs have fallen off, and you have healthy skin where the scabs had been. This usually takes 2 to 4 weeks.
How can doctors tell if I have mpox?
If you have a rash that looks like a mpox rash, your doctor will have you tested for mpox.
The test is done on samples from the rash.
You may also have a blood test.
How do doctors treat mpox?
Most people recover fully within 2 to 4 weeks without treatment.
Doctors may treat your symptoms with pain medicines, fluids, and wound care to help you feel more comfortable.
Medicines that are used to treat smallpox Smallpox Smallpox is a highly contagious, very deadly disease caused by the variola virus. The disease is now considered eliminated. There have been no cases of smallpox since 1977. People can acquire... read more may be given to people at higher risk of getting seriously ill from mpox. For example, medicines may be given to people who have a weak immune system Overview of the Immune System The immune system is your body's defense system. It helps protect you from illness and infection. The immune system's job is to attack things that don’t belong in your body, including: Germs... read more .
How can I prevent mpox?
A vaccine to prevent mpox is available.
You should get vaccinated if you've been exposed to mpox.
Some people are at higher risk than other people of getting mpox. Higher risk people should get vaccinated, including people who:
Have been identified by public health officials as a contact of someone with mpox
Have had sex with someone who was diagnosed with mpox within the past 2 weeks
Had multiple sex partners in the past 2 weeks in an area with known mpox
Have jobs that may expose them to mpox, such as certain lab or healthcare workers
If you should get vaccinated, ask your doctor or local health department where you can find the vaccine.
If you have mpox, you should:
Stay at home and away from other people until a fresh layer of skin has formed where your scabs used to be
Avoid direct physical contact with other people and animals
Not share personal items, such as bed linens, towels, clothing, drinking glasses, or eating utensils
Clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces and items
Wear a mask if close contact with others is necessary