What is monkeypox?
- Monkeypox is a rare viral disease that has recently been identified in the US, and appears to have spread through human-to-human contact.
- The monkeypox virus is in the same family as the virus that causes smallpox. Monkeypox symptoms are similar to smallpox symptoms but milder. Monkeypox is rarely fatal.
- Monkeypox is not related to chickenpox.
How is monkeypox spread?
- Skin-to-skin is the primary mode of transmission. Skin to skin includes:
- Direct contact with a monkeypox rash, scabs, or body fluids from person infected
- Intimate contact including oral, anal, and vaginal sex or touching genitals of person with monkeypox
- Hugging, massaging, and kissing
- Prolonged face to face contact
- Touching contaminated objects, fabrics (clothing, bedding, towels) and surfaces that may have been in contact with someone with monkeypox
- Coming into contact with respiratory droplets or secretions from the eyes, nose, and mouth from a person with monkeypox
What is the normal disease course?
- Early signs include fever, muscle aches, headache, and swollen lymph nodes (3-17 days after exposure).
- A rash may develop on the hands, feet, mouth, and/or genitals
- Rashes may vary in severity among people. Also, any one individual’s rash or rashes may change in appearance over time.
- Generally, infections are mild and will clear up without treatment. Symptoms may last two-four weeks in the absence of therapy. Severe cases can occur.
What does a monkeypox rash look like?
What isolation practices should be followed at home if you have monkeypox?
- Wash hands after touching rash, clothing, linens, or surfaces that may have had contact with rash
- Cover all skin rashes to the extent possible by wearing long sleeves or long pants
- Other household members should wear medical masks when within six feet of the person with monkeypox
- When possible, only the person infected with monkeypox should change bandages and handle contaminated linens. This should be done while wearing disposable gloves, followed by immediate hand washing
- People with monkeypox should isolate until rash has fully resolved and scabs have fallen off and a fresh layer or intact skin has formed
- Friends and family without an essential need to be in the home should not visit
- Avoid close contact with others
- Avoid close contact with pets and other animals (any mammal can be infected with monkeypox. It is not thought that other animals such as reptiles, birds, or fish can be infected)
- Do not engage in sexual activity that involves physical contact
- Do not share potentially contaminated items such as bed linens, clothing, towels, washcloths, drinking glasses, or eating utensils
- Routinely clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces (i.e., light switch, counters etc.)
- Wear a medical mask when in close contact with others
- Avoid wearing contact lenses to prevent inadvertent infection of the eye
- Avoid shaving rash-covered areas of the body as this can lead to spread of the virus
- If possible, use separate bathroom if others live in the same household
When is a person contagious?
- Monkeypox can spread from the time symptoms start until the rash is fully healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed. Typically illness lasts 2-4 weeks.
What treatments are available for monkeypox?
- There are no treatments specifically for monkeypox virus infections. However, monkeypox and smallpox viruses are genetically similar, which means that antiviral drugs and vaccines developed to protect against smallpox may be used to prevent and treat monkepox virus infections.
- Antivirals, such as tecovirimat (TPOXX), may be recommended for people who are more likely to get severely ill, like patients with weakened immune systems.
- If you have symptoms of monkeypox, you should talk to your healthcare provider, even if you don’t think you had contact with someone who has monkeypox.
- Most people with monkeypox recover fully within 2-4 weeks without the need for medical treatment.
More information about monkeypox, including information about the monkeypox vaccine, can be found using the links below.
Monkeypox | LA County Department of Public Health