Prevea Health

Monkeypox: your questions answered


What is monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. Monkeypox virus is part of the same family of viruses as variola virus, the virus that causes smallpox. There are two types (or clades) of monkeypox virus: West African and Congo Basin. Infections in the current outbreak are from the West African type.

How does monkeypox spread?

  • Monkeypox can spread to anyone through close, personal, often skin-to-skin contact including:
    • Direct contact with monkeypox rash, scabs or body fluids from a person with monkeypox.
    • Touching objects, fabrics (clothing, bedding or towels) and surfaces that have been used by someone with monkeypox.
    • Contact with respiratory secretions.
  • This contact can happen during intimate contact including:
    • Oral, anal, and vaginal sex, or touching the genitals or anus of a person with monkeypox
    • Hugging, massaging, kissing, or talking closely
    • Touching fabrics, shared surfaces, and objects, such as bedding, towels, and sex toys, that were used by a person with monkeypox
  • In addition, pregnant people can spread the virus to their fetus through the placenta.
  • It’s 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.
  • People who do not have monkeypox symptoms cannot spread the virus to others.


  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches and backache
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Chills
  • Exhaustion
  • 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. The rash goes through different stages before healing completely.
The illness typically lasts 2-4 weeks.

What should I do if I have symptoms?

  • See a health care provider if you notice a new or unexplained rash or other monkeypox symptoms.
  • Remind the healthcare provider that monkeypox is circulating.
  • Avoid close contact (including intimate physical contact) with others until a healthcare provider examines you.
  • Avoid close contact with pets or other animals until a health care provider examines you.
  • If you’re waiting for test results, follow the same precautions.

What should I do if I am sick with monkeypox?

  • If your test result is positive, stay isolated until your rash has healed, all scabs have fallen off, and a fresh layer of intact skin has formed.
    • Isolate at home.
    • If you have an active rash or other symptoms, stay in a separate room or area away from people or pets you live with, when possible.
  • CDC recommends vaccination for people who have been exposed to monkeypox and people who are at higher risk of being exposed to monkeypox.
  • The illness typically lasts 2-4 weeks.

What treatments are available for monkeypox?

  • There are no treatments specifically for monkeypox virus infections. However, because of genetic similarities in the viruses, antiviral drugs used to treat smallpox may be used to treat monkeypox infections.

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