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Frequently Asked Questions about Monkeypox

Image of the Monkeypox virus

What is monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with a virus. We’ve known monkeypox can cause disease in people since 1970. Before 2022, monkeypox was mostly seen in parts of central and west Africa. During 2022, monkeypox was reported in places where it is not usually found. This includes countries around the world, including the U.S. and here in Ohio. 

Is there a treatment for monkeypox?

Vaccines and drugs used to help prevent and treat similar viruses can also work for monkeypox. Most people get better without medication. Your healthcare provider can help assess if vaccination or medication is needed. Vaccines can help prevent the disease from occurring. Prescription medicine can help treat symptoms. For some people with weak immune systems or other health conditions, medication can help.

What are the symptoms?

Monkeypox can cause a rash that may look like pimples or blisters. The rash will change and turn to scabs before healing  The rash may be on one or more areas of the body including hands, feet, chest, face, genitals, anus, or inside the mouth. 

Some people may get flu-like symptoms like fever, headache, muscle aches, sore throat, cough, swollen lymph nodes, chills, or exhaustion. Sometimes, people get a rash first, then get other symptoms. Other people only get a rash. Symptoms usually appear 1-2 weeks after infection. Most infections last 2-4 weeks and get better without medication.

If you think you have monkeypox, please contact your local healthcare provider for testing and limit contact with other individuals.

What should I do if I suspect I have monkeypox or have had close contact with someone who has it?

Testing is the best way to determine if an infection is monkeypox. Contact your healthcare provider if you have a new rash or have had close contact with someone who may have monkeypox. While you wait to hear about your test result, avoid sex or close contact with others. Cover skin rashes and wear a face mask if you must be around other people.

How is monkeypox transmitted?

Monkeypox does not spread easily between people, but it can spread from person to
person through close contact.

  • Avoid direct contact with the rash, sores, scabs, or body fluids from a person with monkeypox.
  • Avoid prolonged, close face-to-face contact with someone who has monkeypox.
  • Do not touch personal items used by a person with monkeypox (for example: clothing, bedding, or towels).
  • Monkeypox can spread during sex as well as kissing and close contact.

Can I spread monkeypox to people who live with me?

If your doctor says you have monkeypox or you think you might have monkeypox, you should isolate and avoid close contact with others until the rash is gone. Protect the people who live with you by cleaning and disinfecting commonly touched surfaces and items. Do not share items that could be contaminated like bed linens, clothing, towels, plates, cups, forks, spoons, or knives. Learn more about how to prevent spread at home on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.

If I have monkeypox, how long can I give it to other people?

A person with monkeypox is contagious until all the scabs on their body are gone and a new layer of skin is formed.

Can my pets get monkeypox?

Monkeypox is zoonotic, meaning it can spread between animals and people. Although the CDC does not believe that monkeypox poses a high risk to pets, it may be possible for people who are infected to spread monkeypox to animals through close contact, including petting, sharing sleeping areas, and sharing food. To keep the virus from spreading, people with monkeypox should avoid contact with animals. Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website for more information about pets and monkeypox.

How can I protect myself against monkeypox?

Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash.

  • Do not touch the rash or scabs of a person with monkeypox.
  • Do not kiss, hug, cuddle or have sex with someone with monkeypox.

Avoid contact with items that a person with monkeypox has used or touched.

  • Do not share dishes, forks, spoons, knives, or cups with a person with monkeypox.
  • Do not touch the bedding, towels, or clothing of a person with monkeypox.
  • Clean and disinfect items that someone with monkeypox has touched.

Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially before eating or touching your face and after you use the bathroom.

Is there a monkeypox vaccine available?

The CDC does not recommend the monkeypox vaccine for the general public. The vaccine is available for people who have been exposed to monkeypox or are at high risk for exposure.

Right now, Ohio has a very small supply of vaccine to help prevent monkeypox. The vaccine is being given to communities with the most cases to help limit spread.

Who can get a monkeypox vaccine?

The CDC does not recommend the monkeypox vaccine for the general public. The CDC recommends vaccination for people who have been exposed to monkeypox and people who may be more likely to get monkeypox.

People more likely to get monkeypox include:

  • People who have been told by their health department that they are a contact of someone diagnosed with monkeypox.
  • People who find out a sexual partner in the past 2 weeks has been diagnosed with monkeypox.
  • People who had multiple sexual partners in the past 2 weeks in an area with known monkeypox.
  • People who work in medical labs and some healthcare or public health workers.

Where can I get a monkeypox vaccine?

The vaccine supply is currently limited.

If you have been exposed to monkeypox or believe you are at high risk for exposure, please contact your healthcare provider or your local health department for more information. Vaccine is currently available in communities with identified cases and where the risk of spread is highest.