What is Monkeypox?
Monkeypox is a viral infection that typically causes a mild illness with symptoms including fever, body aches, swelling of the lymph nodes, as well as a rash (sometimes called lesions) that look like chickenpox or syphilis. The rash can be painful and may start on the pubic area, genitals, or around the anus. More information including pictures can be found here.
How is Monkeypox spread?
Monkeypox is spread through close contact with another person with a current Monkeypox infection. Monkeypox can also be spread by:
- Direct contact with Monkeypox rash or scabs on a person’s skin.
- Contact with items (such as clothing, bedding, or towels) and surfaces that previously touched the infectious rash or body fluids.
- Contact with respiratory droplets or fluids during prolonged, face-to-face contact.
Who is at risk for Monkeypox?
Anyone can get and spread Monkeypox, regardless of gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation. People who are in close contact (skin-to-skin or face-to-face) with a person with Monkeypox can get infected.
The current outbreak is primarily spreading through sex and close, intimate contact among gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men; and gender non-conforming, non-binary, and transgender people. People in these groups are at highest risk of exposure.
The best way to help prevent the spread of Monkeypox virus is to:
- Avoid close contact, including kissing, cuddling, massage, sex, and other skin-to-skin contact with people with symptoms like sores or rashes.
- Limit sex or other intimate, skin-to-skin contact to include only people you know and trust.
- Always talk with your sexual partner(s) about any recent illness. Be aware that symptoms of monkeypox sometimes begin with a fever and respiratory illness.
- Avoid touching objects and items that may have been in contact with rash/lesions or body secretions like saliva. This may include toothbrushes, utensils, sheets/bedding, towels, clothing.
- Be aware of new or unexplained sores or rashes on your body or your partner’s body, including on the genitals and anus. If you develop a new rash, contact your health care provider for testing. While you wait for the test result, isolate at home. If you are unable to isolate, cover the lesions using bandages and avoid skin-to-skin contact with others to avoid spreading the virus.
For more information on how to prevent the spread, see CDC Prevent the Spread of Monkeypox.
Frequently Asked Questions
What do I do if I have been exposed to Monkeypox?
People who have been exposed to Monkeypox should contact the Montgomery County Office of Public Health (MCOPH) at 610-278-5117 and talk with a staff member about exposure, testing, and vaccine eligibility, as appropriate.
What do I do if I think I am infected with Monkeypox?
How do I get vaccinated for Monkeypox?
Currently, people who are eligible for the Monkeypox vaccine include people 18 years old and older who meet one of the following:
- People who are a close contact with someone who has Monkeypox
- People who have a high risk of having been exposed.
MCOPH is currently offering free Monkeypox vaccine by appointment only for people who are eligible to get vaccinated. If you think you are eligible or have questions about eligibility, contact MCOPH at 610-278-5117 to confirm eligibility, and if eligible schedule an appointment.
Can Monkeypox be treated?
Tecovirimat (TPOXX) is an antiviral drug that is currently under Expanded Access to Investigational Drug Application through CDC for the treatment of Monkeypox. TPOXX should be considered for people infected with Monkeypox who have a weakened immune system or are at high risk for severe disease. People seeking treatment should contact their healthcare provider.
Healthcare providers should contact MCOPH at 610-278-5117 or PADOH, Bureau of Epidemiology (717-787-3350) to request TPOXX.