Mpox is a rare disease caused by a virus from the same family as the virus that causes smallpox. Mpox symptoms are similar to smallpox, but milder, and mpox is rarely fatal. Before the 2022 outbreak, mpox had been reported in people in several central and western African countries.
- Mpox symptoms usually start within 3 weeks of exposure to the virus.
- Mpox can spread from the time symptoms start until the rash heals, scabs fall off, and a fresh layer of skin forms.
- Mpox can spread to anyone through close, personal, often skin-to-skin contact.
- Most people with mpox recover fully within 2 to 4 weeks without the need for medical treatment.
- There are steps you can take to protect yourself against mpox infection.
Currently, testing is only recommended if you have a rash consistent with mpox. If you think you have mpox or have had close personal contact with someone who has mpox, consider taking precautions and visit a healthcare provider to help you decide if you need to be tested for mpox.
CDC recommends vaccination for people who have been exposed to mpox and people who may be more likely to get mpox, including people who had multiple sexual partners in the past 2 weeks in an area with known mpox, and people whose jobs may expose them to the virus.
Most people with mpox recover fully within 2 to 4 weeks without the need for medical treatment. Some people, like those with a weakened immune system or genital or rectal rashes, may need treatment. Drugs used to treat mpox require a prescription and must be requested by a healthcare provider through the local or state health department.
- Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash that looks like mpox. Do not kiss, hug, cuddle or have sex with someone with mpox.
- Avoid contact with objects and materials that a person with mpox has used. Do not handle or touch the bedding, towels, or clothing of a person with mpox.
- 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.
- In Central and West Africa, avoid contact with animals that can spread mpox virus, usually rodents and primates.
- CDC recommends vaccination for people who have been exposed to mpox and people who may be more likely to get mpox.