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Monkeypox is a rare infectious disease caused by the monkeypox virus, which is in the same family of viruses that causes smallpox. It was first identified as a pox-like disease in monkeys kept for research, hence the name "monkeypox."

Known primarily for its characteristic rash with lesions that scab over, the monkeypox rash can occur on the palms and soles, or be generalized affecting other areas including perianal or genital areas. The incubation period (the time from infection with monkeypox to the time symptoms appear) is on average 7 to 14 days. Monkeypox is treatable; however, the disease is occasionally fatal.

Note that the rash associated with monkeypox can be confused with other rashes associated with sexually transmitted infections, such as still-common herpes and syphilis. However, it is also possible to be infected with both monkeypox and an STI.


People at higher risk for monkeypox infection include those who have recently travelled to a country where monkeypox has been identified, or having contact with other people who have a similar rash or have received a diagnosis of suspected or confirmed monkeypox. The current outbreak is primarily affecting men who report having had intimate contact with other men.


Monkeypox can spread to anyone through close, personal, and often skin-to-skin contact including:

  • Direct contact with monkeypox rash, sores, or scabs.
  •  Touching items (such as clothing or linens) that previously touched the infectious rash or body fluids is another way monkeypox spreads. It is also possible for people to get monkeypox from infected animals, either by being scratched or bitten by the animal or by eating meat or using products from an infected animal.
  • Through respiratory droplets or oral fluids from a person with monkeypox (but less transmissible through the airborne-only route than viruses such as the COVID or influenza).
  • During intimate sexual contact such as oral, anal, and vaginal sex or touching the genitals or anus of a person with monkeypox.
  • Hugging, massaging, kissing, cuddling, intimate physical contact, or respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact. In addition, pregnant people can spread the virus to their fetus through the placenta.
  • Monkeypox can be spread from the time symptoms start until all sores have healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed; this can take several weeks.


  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Backache
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Chills
  • Exhaustion
  • A rash or sores, sometimes located on or near the genitals or anus, also could appear in other areas such as the hands, feet, chest, or face
  • One main difference is that monkeypox causes lymph nodes to swell, while smallpox does not.

The time from infection to showing symptoms is usually 7 to 14 days, but may range from 5 to 21 days total. 

If you think you’ve been infected, please contact your health care provider.

Flowchart for exposure and actions to take if you test positive

frequently asked questions

Q: How can I get a Vaccine?
Due to lack of resources, at the moment only high risk individuals are recommended for vaccination. If you are within the high risk group you can talk to your health care provider or the Public Health office to have your name added to the waitlist.

Q: How can I protect myself from monkeypox?
A: Smallpox and monkeypox vaccines may reduce the chances of getting monkeypox. 
The CDC recommends taking the following precautions to prevent getting or spreading 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 with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially before eating or touching your face and after you use the bathroom.

Q: What situations or activities could put me at risk for monkeypox?
You may be more at risk for monkeypox in the following situations:

  • Close, intimate contact with an infected person.
  • Living in the same household that increases chances of contact with a person or contaminated objects.
  • Exposure to respiratory droplets of an infected person through close, face-to-face contact.
  • Attending indoor gatherings that could put you in direct, skin-to-skin contact with an infected person

Note: While anyone who engages in these activities are at risk, the current outbreak is mostly occurring among men who report having intimate contact with other men. Risk and guidance could change if monkeypox continues to spread.

Q: How soon after exposure do symptoms appear?
Symptoms usually appear 7 to 14 days after exposure.

 Q: How is monkeypox diagnosed?
Monkeypox is diagnosed through special laboratory tests on samples taken from people or animals suspected of having monkeypox lesions. If you are concerned about a possible monkeypox infection, reach out to your provider.

Q: What is the treatment for monkeypox?
There are no treatments specifically for monkeypox virus infections. Antiviral drugs and vaccines developed to protect against smallpox and monkeypox may be used to prevent and treat monkeypox virus infections. People who have symptoms of monkeypox should contact their provider.

Q: Can my pets contract monkeypox?
Some mammals can contract and transmit monkeypox. While there is much we do not know about animal transmission, the CDC has an excellent summary of animals and monkeypox.

Q: Where can I find more info about monkeypox?
If you have concerns about monkeypox, contact your health care provider. Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website here.

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