Risks and Testing

VDH is updating webpages with the term "mpox"

VDH is updating webpages with the term "mpox" to reduce stigma and other issues associated with prior terminology. This change is aligned with the recent World Health Organization decision.

Risks and Testing Icon

Mpox Risks & Testing

The risk to the general public is considered low at this time.
Anyone can get and spread mpox; however, it is spread by close contact with an infected person. Close contact includes touching skin lesions, bodily fluids, or clothing or linens that have been in contact with an infected person. Spread can also occur during prolonged, face-to-face contact.

Risks for Mpox

Who is at risk?

The highest risk activity at present is sex with anonymous or multiple partners. Avoiding these activities greatly reduces your risk of catching or spreading mpox.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more information about prevention for people who are sexually active, who are at higher risk of exposure.

If you are at risk for contracting mpox, visit VDH's prevention and vaccination website to read more about the vaccines available, who is eligible for the vaccine, and other prevention tips.

What are the risk levels?

The most risky activities are those where there is direct contact with the infection. Most daily activities–such as shopping, traveling, using public transportation, dining out, and going to work–pose a relatively low risk.

The chart below offers some examples of activities and their risk level.

As with any disease, good health habits like proper handwashing can help reduce the risk and spread of mpox.

Most Risky
Most Risk Icon

  • Direct contact with the infectious rash, scabs, or body fluids
  • Sexual or intimate contact (condoms do not protect against the spread of mpox)

More Risky
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  • Kissing, cuddling
  • Dancing at a party inside with non-fully clothed people

Possible Risk
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  • Sharing drinks
  • Sharing a bed, towels, or personal toiletry items
  • Dancing at a party inside with fully clothed people

Unlikely Risk
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  • Dancing at a party outside with mostly clothed people
  • Coworker-to-coworker transmission
  • Trying on clothes at a store
  • Touching a doorknob
  • Traveling on a plane or public transit
  • In a swimming pool, hot tub, or public restroom
  • At a grocery store, coffee shop, or gym (via equipment)

Is my pet at risk?

Infected animals can spread mpox to people, and it is possible that people who are infected can spread mpox to animals through close contact, including petting, cuddling, hugging, kissing, licking, sharing sleeping areas, and sharing food.

People with mpox should avoid contact with animals, including pets, domestic animals, and wildlife to prevent spreading the virus. More information can be found on the CDC website.

Testing for Mpox

How do I get tested for mpox?

If you think you may be infected with mpox, you should contact your healthcare provider. A healthcare provider can examine your symptoms and help decide if a test is needed. If you are sick with mpox, they can also help you manage your illness and prescribe medication if you need it.

What should I do if I have symptoms?

If you have symptoms, you should separate yourself from other people and pets, cover your lesions, and contact your healthcare provider, especially if it is possible you were in a setting or situation within the last month where mpox is known to spread.

If you cannot completely separate yourself from others, you should wear a well-fitting face mask and cover areas where rash or sores are present. CDC has other recommendations for people who have mpox and are isolating at home.

Please call ahead before going to a healthcare facility and let them know that you are concerned about mpox. You may be asked screening questions before you are scheduled for testing.

Where else can I get tested?

If you do not have a healthcare provider, you can contact a public health clinic. You can use these resources to find a public health clinic:

How much does testing cost?

The cost of mpox testing depends on where you get it.

  • Testing referrals from a private healthcare provider to a commercial lab or tests done in the hospital may involve a fee.
  • Tests conducted by public health departments are usually free.

Last updated: December 1, 2022

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