Monkeypox

[MUN-kee-pox]

Monkeypox

Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by a virus from the same family as the virus that causes smallpox. Monkeypox symptoms are similar to smallpox, but milder, and monkeypox is rarely fatal. Despite being named “monkeypox,” the source of the disease remains unknown. The first human case of monkeypox was recorded in 1970. Before the 2022 outbreak, monkeypox had been reported in people in several central and western African countries.

Key Facts

  • Monkeypox symptoms usually start within 3 weeks of exposure to the virus.
  • Monkeypox can spread from the time symptoms start until the rash heals, scabs fall off, and a fresh layer of skin forms.
  • Monkeypox can spread to anyone through close, personal, often skin-to-skin contact.
  • Most people with monkeypox recover fully within 2 to 4 weeks without the need for medical treatment.
  • There are steps you can take to protect yourself against monkeypox infection.
Technician wearing rubber gloves and looking at test vial
When to Get Tested

Currently, testing is only recommended if you have a rash consistent with monkeypox. If you think you have monkeypox or have had close personal contact with someone who has monkeypox, consider taking precautions and visit a healthcare provider to help you decide if you need to be tested for monkeypox.

Syringe and arm
Monkeypox Vaccines

CDC recommends vaccination for people who have been exposed to monkeypox and people who may be more likely to get monkeypox, including people who had multiple sexual partners in the past 2 weeks in an area with known monkeypox, and people whose jobs may expose them to the virus.

Monkeypox rash on patient's back
If You Are Sick

Most people with monkeypox 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 monkeypox require a prescription and must be requested by a healthcare provider through the local or state health department.

Prevention Tips

  • Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash that looks like monkeypox. Do not kiss, hug, cuddle or have sex with someone with monkeypox.
  • Avoid contact with objects and materials that a person with monkeypox has used. Do not handle or touch the bedding, towels, or clothing of a person with monkeypox.
  • 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 monkeypox virus, usually rodents and primates.
  • CDC recommends vaccination for people who have been exposed to monkeypox and people who may be more likely to get monkeypox.
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2022