Frequently Asked Questions
You may have seen news stories recently about a global outbreak of monkeypox. While the outbreak has not been severe, you may have questions or concerns. Below are answers to some common questions about monkeypox. The CDC website is another helpful source of information.
General Virus Information
What is monkeypox?
Monkeypox is a rare infection caused by a virus that is in the same family as the virus that causes smallpox. Monkeypox is not related to chickenpox.
Monkeypox virus does not continuously mutate or change like influenza or COVID. There are, however, separate and distinct strains of the monkeypox virus. The current world outbreak is caused by the less serious strain.
How is monkeypox spread?
The virus can spread from person to person through:
- Direct contact with the infectious rash, scabs or body fluids
- Respiratory droplets during prolonged face-to-face contact, or during intimate contact such as kissing or intercourse
- Touching items that previously touched an infectious rash or body fluids
- Through the placenta to the fetus
People may also get monkeypox from infected animals, after being scratched or bitten, or by preparing meat or using products from an infected animal.
Anyone who has been in close contact with someone who has monkeypox can get the illness.
Monkeypox can spread from the time symptoms start until the rash has fully healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed. The illness typically lasts 2-4 weeks. People who do not have symptoms cannot spread the virus.
How dangerous is monkeypox?
Infections with the strain causing the current outbreak rarely require hospitalization, however some people are at risk for more serious infection:
- Those with weakened immune systems
- Children under 8 years old
- People with a history of eczema
- People who are pregnant or breastfeeding
What are the signs and symptoms of monkeypox?
Monkeypox symptoms are similar to smallpox symptoms, but milder, and appear about two weeks after exposure to the virus. Symptoms can include:
- Muscle aches and backache
- Swollen lymph nodes
A rash that can look like pimples or blisters that appears on the face, in the mouth and on other parts of the body. The rash usually develops within 3-5 days of the fever. Lesions typically last 2-4 weeks and an infected person is contagious until the lesions all form crusts and fall off.
Monkeypox is rarely fatal, and there have been no fatalities in the U.S. outbreak.
What should I do if I have been exposed or have symptoms?
If you have been exposed to someone with monkeypox, begin monitoring yourself for symptoms and take your temperature twice a day. If you develop symptoms, contact your primary care provider for guidance.
If you are sick with monkeypox, you will be contagious until your rash has healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed. Until that happens:
- Isolate at home
- Stay in a separate room or away from people or pets who live with you, if possible.
Testing & Treatment
How is monkeypox treated?
For the most part, treatment focuses on the most bothersome symptoms. For rare cases with more severe symptoms, antiviral medication may be tried, but there is no proof of effectiveness for this outbreak.
How is monkeypox detected?
Monkeypox testing involves swabbing skin lesions. Currently testing is coordinated by the New York and Pennsylvania Departments of Health.
What can I do to prevent getting monkeypox?
Avoid skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash. Do not handle bedding or clothing of a person with monkeypox. Wash your hands often with soap and water.
Is there a vaccine for monkeypox?
Two licensed vaccines are available for monkeypox: JYNNEOS (known as Imvamune or Imvanex) and ACAM 2000.
- ACAM2000 is in ample supply in the U.S. but should not be used in people with a weakened immune system, with skin conditions or who are pregnant.
- JYNNEOS, which is considered safer for these high-risk groups, is currently in limited supply
Guthrie does not have monkeypox vaccine at this time.
How effective is the vaccine?
There is no data available yet on the effectiveness of the vaccines in the current outbreak.