What is monkeypox?
Monkeypox 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, monkeypox is less serious than smallpox. Monkeypox is not related to chicken pox.
Monkeypox can cause a rash that looks like pimples or blisters
Symptoms usually last 2 to 4 weeks
Monkeypox can spread to anyone through close, personal contact
Most cases of monkeypox don't need specific treatment, but some cases are treated with medicines
A vaccine to prevent monkeypox is available
Monkeypox is rarely fatal
In 2022, monkeypox cases were reported in countries that do not usually have monkeypox infections. Before 2022, monkeypox most often caused disease in Central and West Africa.
What are the symptoms of monkeypox?
A rash is the most common symptom of monkeypox. The monkeypox 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 monkeypox?
If you have a rash that looks like a monkeypox rash, your doctor will have you tested for monkeypox.
The test is done on samples from the rash.
You may also have a blood test.
How do doctors treat monkeypox?
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 monkeypox. 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 monkeypox?
A vaccine to prevent monkeypox is available.
You should get vaccinated if you've been exposed to monkeypox.
Some people are at higher risk than other people of getting monkeypox. Higher risk people should get vaccinated, including people who:
Have been identified by public health officials as a contact of someone with monkeypox
Have had sex with someone who was diagnosed with monkeypox within the past 2 weeks
Had multiple sex partners in the past 2 weeks in an area with known monkeypox
Have jobs that may expose them to monkeypox, 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 monkeypox, 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