Monkeypox is a viral illness that primarily spreads through skin-to-skin contact, although it can also spread through respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact. It is endemic in some countries but not the United States, though several countries, including the United States, have seen cases in 2022.
Monkeypox typically begins with:
- Muscle aches
- Swollen lymph nodes
Within 1 to 3 days (sometimes longer) after the appearance of fever, the patient develops a rash, often beginning on the face then spreading to other parts of the body.
- Some people experience a rash or sores first, followed by other symptoms and some people only experience a rash or sores
- The rash or sores are sometimes located on or near the genitals or anus, but sometimes in other areas like the hands, feet, chest or face – sores will go through several stages before healing (see below)
- Sores may be inside the body, including the mouth, vagina, or anus
The rash may begin as small, flat, round discolorations that become raised and fluid-filled (clear or pus) before scabbing. These spots and the fluid in them carry virus that can infect others. Once scabs fall off, the area is no longer infectious.
The illness typically lasts for 2−4 weeks. Most patients with Monkeypox fully recover from the virus without treatment.
If you have symptoms, including any unexplained rash: Please call your healthcare provider and inform them of your symptoms. If you do not have a healthcare provider, you can find one at FindHelpPhx.org.
Monkeypox can spread to anyone through close, personal, often skin-to-skin contact including:
- Direct contact with monkeypox rash, sores, fluid, or scabs
- Contact with objects, fabrics (clothing, bedding, or towels), and surfaces that have been used by someone with monkeypox
- Through respiratory droplets or oral fluids from a person with monkeypox
This contact can happen during intimate sexual contact including:
- Oral, anal, and vaginal sex or touching the genitals or anus of a person with monkeypox
- Hugging, massage, or kissing and talking closely
- Touching fabrics and objects during sex that were used by a person with monkeypox
We know the virus can be spread in fluid or pus from monkeypox sores, and are trying to better understand if the virus could be present in semen, vaginal fluids or other body fluids.
According to the CDC, a person is more likely to develop monkeypox if they:
- Report having contact with a person or people with a similar appearing rash or who received a diagnosis of confirmed or probable monkeypox
- Had close or intimate in-person contact with individuals in a social network experiencing monkeypox activity; this includes men who have sex with men (MSM) who meet partners through an online website, digital application (“app”), or social event (e.g., a bar or party)
- Traveled outside the US to a country with confirmed cases of monkeypox or where Monkeypox virus is endemic
- Had contact with a dead or live wild animal or exotic pet that is an African endemic species or used a product derived from such animals (e.g., game meat, creams, lotions, powders, etc.)
The best way to prevent the spread of monkeypox and other viruses is to wash your hands after you touch someone, wear a mask when you are in a crowded indoor space and stay home if you’re sick with fever or respiratory symptoms. Always avoid touching a rash or skin lesions on someone else.
If you suspect a patient may have monkeypox and would like to discuss testing options, contact MCDPH at (602) 506-3747.
Some cases seen in the 2022 outbreak have an atypical presentation, so have a low threshold for testing when a patient presents with an unexplained rash. Some people experience a rash or sores first, followed by other symptoms; some people only experience a rash or sores.
Communications about monkeypox:
- CDC Health Alert Network update, June 14, 2022 (CDC.gov)
- MCDPH SURV Alert, June 10, 2022 (PDF)
- CDC Health Alert Network update, May 20, 2022 (CDC.gov)