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Monkeypox Resource Center

Monkeypox: What We Know
Monkeypox is a rare disease that is caused by infection with the monkeypox virus and is related to the smallpox virus. While generally less severe and much less contagious than smallpox, monkeypox can be a serious illness. It spreads from infected humans, animals, and materials contaminated with the virus but primarily through close, personal, often skin-to-skin contact with people who have monkeypox symptoms, such as rash and sores.

Should I be worried about monkeypox?
There is a recent increase in reported cases where monkeypox is not commonly seen, including in the United States and California. While it’s good to stay alert about any emerging public health outbreaks, the current risk of getting monkeypox in the general public is very low.

Is monkeypox a new disease?
No, monkeypox is not a new disease. Monkeypox was first discovered in 1958. The first human case of monkeypox was recorded in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Monkeypox is endemic (regularly found) in west and central African countries.
Is monkeypox related to COVID-19? 
No, monkeypox is a completely different disease and is not related to COVID-19. Monkeypox is much less contagious and spreads differently than COVID-19. This is partly because people with monkeypox are generally thought to be contagious to people with whom they’ve had very close contact over a long period of time, and when they have symptoms like a rash. This is different from COVID-19, which spreads through the air and when people do not have symptoms.
How is monkeypox transmitted?
Monkeypox spreads primarily through direct contact with infectious sores, scabs, or body fluids, including during sex, as well as activities like kissing, hugging, massaging, and cuddling. Monkeypox can spread through touching materials used by a person with monkeypox that haven’t been cleaned, such as clothing and bedding. It can also spread by respiratory secretions (talking, coughing, sneezing, breathing) during prolonged, close, face-to-face contact.

 Monkeypox can be spread through: 

  • Direct skin-skin contact with rash lesions
  • Sexual/intimate contact, including kissing
  • Living in a house and sharing a bed with someone
  • Sharing towels or unwashed clothing
  • Respiratory secretions through prolonged face-to-face interactions (the type that mainly happen when living with someone or caring for someone who has monkeypox)
Who can get monkeypox? 
Anyone can get monkeypox after having close and prolonged physical contact with someone who has the infection, especially contact with infected lesions (sores), bodily fluids, or other contaminated surfaces. However, the current risk to the general public is very low.


Signs, Symptoms & Prevention
What are the signs and symptoms of monkeypox?
Monkeypox might start with symptoms like the flu, with fever, low energy, swollen lymph nodes, and general body aches. Within 1 to 3 days (sometimes longer) after the appearance of fever, the person can develop a rash or sores. The sores will go through several stages, including scabs, before healing. They can look like pimples or blisters and may be painful and itchy.

The rash or sores may be located on or near the genitals (penis, testicles, labia, and vagina) or anus (butt) but could also be on other areas like the hands, feet, chest, and face. They may also be limited to one part of the body.

People with monkeypox may experience all or only a few of these symptoms. Most people with monkeypox will get the rash or sores. Some people have reported developing the rash or sores before (or without) the flu-like symptoms.

When is monkeypox contagious?
Monkeypox symptoms usually start within 2 weeks (but can be up to 3 weeks) after exposure to the virus. Usually, people are only thought to be contagious (infectious) when they have symptoms, and until all sores, including scabs, have healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed. This can take several weeks. Researchers are still trying to understand if the virus can spread from someone who has no symptoms.

How is monkeypox prevented? 

There are number of ways to prevent the spread of monkeypox, including:
  • Always talking to your sexual partner/s about any recent illness and being aware of new or unexplained sores or rashes on your body or your partner’s body, including on the genitals and anus
  • Avoiding close contact, including sex, with people with symptoms like sores or rashes
  • Avoiding contact with infected animals and materials contaminated with the virus
  • Isolation of infected persons until their symptoms, including rash, have gone away completely
  • Using appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) (like a mask, gown and gloves) when caring for others with symptoms
  • Practicing good hand hygiene

What should someone do if they are exposed to monkeypox or have symptoms? 

Contact a health care provider as soon as possible and let them know you have symptoms or have been exposed to monkeypox. Health care providers can provide testing and care for people who are diagnosed with monkeypox.
Health care providers and local health departments may also recommend a vaccine for those who are exposed to help prevent infection or decrease the seriousness of the illness.



Residents are eligible for a Monkeypox vaccine if they identify as:

  • Close contact to someone with confirmed monkeypox
  • Close contact to someone with high clinical suspicion (i.e., characteristic rash and risk factors) for monkeypox
  • Close contact with others at a venue or event or within a social group where a suspected or confirmed monkeypox case was identified
  • Persons living with HIV who are gay, bisexual, other men who have sex with men, or transgender persons who have sex with men who have had:
    • A sexually transmitted infection such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, or syphilis in the past month; or
    • More than one sex partner in the past month
  • A healthcare professional who has been identified with a high or intermediate risk occupational exposure to someone who has confirmed monkeypox according to the CDC exposure risk assessment
  • A laboratory worker who routinely handles monkeypox virus samples for diagnosis or testing purposes

Please contact your healthcare provider or occupational health department if you are eligible for the monkeypox vaccine. If you do not have a healthcare provider, please contact monkeypox@acgov.org

The information provided on this website is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.

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