Monkeypox, now known as “mpox”

The Prince William Health District (PWHD), as part of the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), is working with other local public health agencies to respond to the current outbreak of monkeypox (mpox) cases in our community, northern Virginia, D.C., and Maryland. Monkeypox is now known as "mpox" to reduce stigma and other issues associated with prior terminology. This change is aligned with the recent World Health Organization decision.

PWHD is:

  1. Offering limited testing and vaccines to prevent further spread of the mpox virus to those who are at high risk of getting the infection.
  2. Providing education and guidance to community healthcare providers, cases, and their high risk contacts (most likely to get infected), and monitoring high risk contacts for developing a mpox infection (Case Investigation and Contact Tracing).
  3. Sharing educational information and vaccines to community partners who provide services to populations at greatest risk.

What is mpox?

Mpox is a rare illness that causes a rash with blisters or sores. It is not a new virus like COVID-19. Mpox belongs to the same family of viruses as smallpox and cowpox. Mpox is a milder illness and is not as contagious as smallpox.

Mpox is currently a low threat to the general public because person-to-person spread requires close contact with an infected person for long periods of time.


If you have mpox symptoms:

  • Call a healthcare provider to get tested for mpox
  • Stay home if you feel sick.

If you were exposed to mpox:

  • Call Prince William Health District at (703) 792-6300 or (703) 792-7300
  • Ask if you are eligible for the Jynneos vaccine that MAY PREVENT you from getting mpox.

If you are high risk for being exposed to mpox:

  • Call Prince William Health District at (703) 792-6300 or (703) 792-7300
  • Ask if you are eligible for the Jynneos vaccine that MAY PREVENT you from getting mpox.
Mpox Symptoms

The most common mpox symptom is a rash with sores or blisters.

The rash looks like pimples or blisters that appear on the face, inside the mouth, and on other parts of the body like the hands, feet, chest, genitals, or anus.

The rash goes through different stages before healing completely.

  • The rash typically starts as flat red spots then progresses to firm raised bumps then to fluid-filled blisters.
  • The pimples or blisters may be painful.
  • Sometimes, people get a rash first, followed by other symptoms. Others only experience a rash.

Other symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches and backache
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Chills
  • Exhaustion

Infected individuals may be contagious from the time that symptoms start (fever/flu-like symptoms or rash) until all skin lesions have formed scabs and fallen off and no other symptoms are present. Symptoms usually last 2-4 weeks.

If you have symptoms:

  • Call a healthcare provider to get tested for mpox.
  • Stay home if you feel sick.
  • Separate yourself from other people and pets.
  • Avoid close physical contact with others.
  • Cover your lesions.
How Mpox Spreads

Anyone can get and spread mpox.

Mpox germs spread from person-to-person from skin-to-skin contact, touching sores or blisters, sharing bedding or clothing, or kissing and intimate contact.

Infected individuals may be contagious from the time that symptoms start (fever/flu-like symptoms or rash) until all skin lesions have formed scabs and fallen off and no other symptoms are present. Symptoms usually last 2-4 weeks.

Mpox can live on surfaces, but it is easily killed with soap and water. It also requires a significant “dose” of virus on the bed sheets or clothing of an infected person to infect another person.

People who do not have mpox symptoms cannot spread the virus to others.

Mpox is currently a low threat to the general public because person-to-person spread requires close contact with an infected person for long periods of time.

Prevention

To prevent mpox:

  • Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with someone who has the mpox rash.
  • Do not touch the rash or scabs of person with mpox.
  • Do not kiss, hug, cuddle or have sex with someone with mpox.
  • Do not share eating utensils or cups.
  • Do not handle or touch the bedding, towels, or clothing of a sick person.

Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially after contact with sick people.

Cleaning guidance

Guidance for Hospitality Industry

Testing

If you have mpox symptoms, get tested by a health care provider.

A healthcare worker will take 2–4 swabs of lesions (pimples or blisters) on different areas of the body and send the samples to a laboratory.

If you test positive for mpox:

  • You should isolate at home.
  • If you have an active rash or other symptoms, you should be in a separate room or area from other family members and pets when possible.
  • Your doctor will discuss with you how to recover from this illness.
  • You may receive a call from a contact tracer at Prince William Health District to learn more about your illness and other people who may been exposed to this virus.
Treatment

Most people with mpox get better on their own without treatment (CDC, What to Do If You Are Sick). Pain medication like Tylenol or Advil may be needed to treat pain.

There are no treatments approved specifically for mpox. The antiviral treatment, tecovirimat (TPOXX) is approved to protect against smallpox and may be used to treat people with severe disease or who may be at high risk of severe disease (e.g., people with weakened immune systems and people with certain skin conditions).

Vaccines

Vaccination with the Jynneos vaccine is recommended for contacts of mpox cases and people at high risk of exposure to mpox.

You may be eligible for the Jynneos mpox vaccine if you:

  • Have a known exposure to someone with mpox
  • People who fall into any of the following groups:
    • All people, of any sexual orientation or gender, who have had anonymous or multiple (more than 1) sexual partners in the last 2 weeks
    • Sex workers (of any sexual orientation or gender)
    • Staff (of any sexual orientation or gender) at establishments where sexual activity occurs (bathhouses, saunas, sex clubs)
    • Person of any sexual orientation or gender who is living with HIV/AIDS
    • Person of any sexual orientation or gender diagnosed with any sexually transmitted infection in the past three months

If you were exposed to mpox:

  • Call Prince William Health District at (703) 792-6300 or (703) 792-7300
  • Ask if you are eligible for the Jynneos vaccine that MAY PREVENT you from getting mpox.

If you are high risk for being exposed to mpox:

  • Call Prince William Health District at (703) 792-6300 or (703) 792-7300
  • Ask if you are eligible for the Jynneos vaccine that MAY PREVENT you from getting mpox.

Jynneos mpox vaccine

PWHD is working to ensure that residents of Prince William County, Manassas City, and Manassas Park who have been exposed or are at high risk of being exposed to mpox receive a vaccination.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend widespread vaccination for mpox at this time.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Jynneos vaccine for the prevention of mpox in high-risk adults 18 years of age and older, and high-risk children ages 17 and younger.

The vaccine is not an effective treatment for those who already have mpox. If you have any symptoms that may indicate you have mpox, please contact a healthcare provider.

The vaccine should be given within 4 days from the date of exposure for the best chance to prevent disease. If given between 4 and 14 days after the date of exposure, vaccination may reduce the symptoms of disease, but may not prevent the disease.

The mpox vaccine requires two doses, four weeks apart. The Jynneos vaccine is given subcutaneously (in the fatty tissue just below the skin) for high-risk children ages 17 and younger. The Jynneos vaccine is given intradermally (just under the top layer of skin) to people who are 18 years old and older (more information Intradermal-MPX-Vaccination.pdf)

A person is not fully protected from mpox until two weeks after the second dose of the vaccine.

More Information