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Monkeypox: What You Need To Know

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Monkeypox: What You Need To Know

What is Monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. Monkeypox is part of the same family of viruses (Orthopoxvirus) that causes smallpox. Monkeypox was first identified in 1958 during two outbreaks in monkeys kept for research. The first human case of monkeypox was in 1970.

Prior to the 2022 outbreak, monkeypox had been reported in people in several central and west African countries. Cases have been identified in other countries in 2022. The U.S. confirmed a case on May 18, 2022.

Who is at Risk to Get Monkeypox?

According to the CDC, the current risk to the public of contracting monkeypox appears to be low. Due to the fact that the virus is highly contagious, anyone experiencing symptoms of monkeypox (such as rash or lesions), should contact their healthcare provider and follow the recommended preventative steps to avoid spreading the virus. This includes persons who have:

  • Recently traveled to countries where monkeypox cases have been reported; and/or,
  • Had contact with a person who has a similar rash or has confirmed/suspected monkeypox. 

For additional information related to the spread of monkeypox, see “How it Spreads” on the CDC website.

What are the Symptoms of Monkeypox?

Symptoms develop five to 21 days after exposure (called the incubation period).

Symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Muscle or backaches
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Chills
  • Exhaustion

Within one to three days after the occurrence of fever, a rash develops, typically beginning on the face and spreading across the body. In the advanced stages of the disease, the rash can be severe and become widespread. The illness typically lasts for two to four weeks.

How to Prevent 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, or hug, someone with monkeypox.
    • 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.

Testing and Treatment

There is currently no proven treatment for monkeypox infection. There are, however, safe and approved vaccines, antivirals, and other therapies that can be used for preventing disease in exposed or high-risk people.

If you think you may have been exposed to or contracted monkeypox, call your primary care office. To Find a Doctor near you, click here. For the latest on monkeypox from the CDC, click here.