Monkeypox Information

Monkeypox

Monkeypox is a contagious rash illness caused by the monkeypox virus. The virus is in the same family of viruses as the virus that causes smallpox. Monkeypox causes milder illness than smallpox, but some symptoms can be severe. The monkeypox virus can spread from animals to people and from person to person.

Monkeypox symptoms usually start within 3 weeks of exposure to the virus. For many people, the illness starts with flu-like symptoms that begin a few days before the rash appears. Initial symptoms can include: 

  • Fever or chills
  • Headache 
  • Muscle aches and backache
  • Tiredness
  • Swollen lymph nodes

For some people, this rash may be their only symptom. The rash can look like pimples or blisters. It often begins on the genitals or perianal area, or in and around the mouth. In these situations, the monkeypox rash could be confused with a more common sexually transmitted infection (STI). The rash might develop on just one part of the body or can appear on many parts of the body. These lesions might be painful.

Monkeypox Transmission

Monkeypox does not spread from person to person through casual conversation or by walking by someone who is infected. The risk to the community is considered low at this time.

Monkeypox can be spread from person to person by sexual or intimate contact, hugging, cuddling, and massage, and by sharing a towel or clothing that has not been washed.

Most people who have become infected with monkeypox had close or intimate contact or prolonged face to face contact with an infected person. Spread can occur from touching skin lesions, bodily fluids, or parts of clothing or linens that have been in contact with lesions or bodily fluids.

Monkeypox can be prevented by avoiding close, skin to skin contact with another person’s rash or scabs. It can also be prevented by avoiding kissing, cuddling, or having sex with someone who is infected. Don’t share bedding, towels, or personal grooming devices and don’t share eating utensils or cups.

If you think you have monkeypox, seek medical advice by contacting your healthcare provider. If you have symptoms, you should separate yourself from other people and pets, cover your lesions, and contact your healthcare provider. If you do not have a provider, you can contact a public health clinic. Please call ahead before going to a healthcare facility and let them know that you are concerned about monkeypox.  

Monkeypox Vaccinations

At present, the monkeypox vaccine is only recommended for individuals who have been exposed or are at high risk of exposure to the monkeypox virus. If either of these situations applies to you, contact your local health department to see if you are eligible for vaccination.

For the latest information about monkeypox from VDH, visit our monkeypox information webpage: www.vdh.virginia.gov/monkeypox/