What is monkeypox?
Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. Monkeypox can make you sick, including a rash or sores (pox), often with an earlier flu-like illness. Monkeypox is rarely fatal.
How does it spread?
Monkeypox spreads in different ways. The virus can spread from 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
- pregnant people can spread the virus to their fetus through the placenta
Monkeypox can spread from the time symptoms start until the rash has fully healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed. People who do not have monkeypox symptoms cannot spread the virus to others.
What are the symptoms of monkeypox?
Symptoms of monkeypox can include:
- Muscle aches and backache
- Swollen lymph nodes
- A rash that can look like pimples or blisters that appears on the face, inside the mouth, and on other parts of the body, like the hands, feet, chest, genitals, or anus.
Sometimes, people get a rash first, followed by other symptoms. Others only experience a rash. The rash goes through different stages before healing completely, typically 2-4 weeks.
How can I prevent monkeypox?
Take the following three steps to prevent getting monkeypox:
Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash that looks like monkeypox
- Do not touch the rash or scabs of a person with monkeypox.
- Do not kiss, hug, cuddle or have sex with someone with monkeypox.
Avoid contact with objects and materials that a person with monkeypox has used.
- Do not share eating utensils or cups with a person with monkeypox.
- Do not handle or touch the bedding, towels, or clothing of a person with monkeypox.
Wash your hands often.
- 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.
Monkeypox Transmission Risk by Activity
- Direct contact with an infectious rash, scabs, or body fluids
- Sexual or intimate contact (condoms are likely not enough to prevent monkeypox)
- Dancing at a crowded partyinsidewith non-fully clothed people
- Sharing drinks, vapes, or cigarettes
- Sharing a bed, towels, personal toiletry items, or sex toys
- Dancing at a crowded partyinsidewith fully clothed people
- Dancing at a partyoutsidewith mostly clothed people
- Walking past someone in a grocery store
- Trying on clothing at a store
- Touching a doorknob or other equipment shared by others (like at a gym, coffee shop, etc.)
- In a swimming pool, hot tub, or body of water
- Coworker-to-coworker transmission
- Flying in a plane or using public transportation
- Using a public restroom
Vaccination is an important tool in preventing the spread of monkeypox. But given the current limited supply of vaccine, consider temporarily changing some behaviors that may increase your risk of being exposed. These temporary changes will help slow the spread of monkeypox until vaccine supply is adequate.
Learn more about what you can do from the CDC: Safer Sex, Social Gatherings, and Monkeypox
If you think you may have been exposed, or if you have symptoms of monkeypox, avoid others (including pets) and contact your health care provider right away for evaluation and testing.