Frequently Asked Questions
Please refer to Clinician FAQs for clinical questions.
Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. Monkeypox virus is part of the same family of viruses as variola virus, the virus that causes smallpox. Monkeypox symptoms are similar to smallpox symptoms, but milder, and monkeypox is rarely fatal.
Infections with the type of monkeypox virus identified in this outbreak—the Clade IIb —are rarely fatal. Over 99% of people who get this form of the disease are likely to survive. However, people with weakened immune systems, children under 8 years of age, people with a history of eczema, and people who are pregnant or breastfeeding may be more likely to get seriously ill or die.
The Clade I type of monkeypox virus has a fatality rate around 10%.
People who think they have monkeypox or have had close personal contact with someone who has monkeypox should visit a healthcare provider to help them decide if they need to be tested for monkeypox. If they decide that you should be tested, they will work with you to collect the specimens and send them to a laboratory for testing,
Symptoms of monkeypox can include:
- Muscle aches and backache
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Respiratory symptoms (e.g. sore throat, nasal congestion, or cough)
- A rash that can look like pimples or blisters that appears 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 illness typically lasts 2-4 weeks.
Sometimes, people get a rash first, followed by other symptoms. Others only experience a rash.
- See a healthcare provider if you notice a new or unexplained rash or other monkeypox symptoms.
- Remind the healthcare provider that monkeypox is present in the United States.
- Avoid close contact (including intimate physical contact) with others until you see a healthcare provider.
- Avoid close contact with pets or other animals until you see a healthcare provider.
- If you’re waiting for test results, follow the same precautions.
- If your test result is positive, stay isolated and observe other prevention practices until your rash has healed, all scabs have fallen off, and a fresh layer of intact skin has formed.
- Remain isolated if you have a fever, sore throat, nasal congestion, or cough. Only go out to see a healthcare provider or for an emergency. Avoid public transportation.
- If you must leave isolation, cover the rash and wear a well-fitting mask.
Monkeypox can spread from person to person through direct contact with the infectious rash, scabs, fluid from sores or saliva. It also can be spread by respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact, or during intimate physical contact, such as kissing, cuddling, or sex.
Monkeypox can spread from the time symptoms start until the rash has fully healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed. Anyone in close personal contact with a person with monkeypox can get it and should take steps to protect themselves.
Monkeypox can more accurately be described as “sexually transmissible.” In other words, sex is just one of the ways that monkeypox can be spread. In the past, monkeypox outbreaks have been linked to direct exposure to infected animals and animal products, with limited person-to-person spread. In the current monkeypox outbreak, the virus is spreading primarily through close personal contact. This may include contact with infectious lesions or respiratory secretions via close, sustained skin-to-skin contact that occurs during sex. However, any close, sustained skin-to-skin contact with someone who has monkeypox can spread the virus. The contact does not have to be exclusively intimate or sexual.
No studies have found a clear link between monkeypox and water in pools, hot tubs, or splash pads. The monkeypox virus is killed in water at the chlorine levels recommended for disinfection in recreational water venues by CDC and required by U.S. jurisdictions.
However, it is possible to spread monkeypox to others through close, skin-to-skin contact. It can also be spread by sharing objects that a person with monkeypox used, such as towels, kickboards, pool toys, or clothing.
- Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash that looks like monkeypox.
- Avoid contact with objects and materials that a person with monkeypox has used.
- 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.
People can get monkeypox if they have close, skin-to-skin contact with someone who has monkeypox. Early indications are that events with activities in which people engage in close, sustained skin-to-skin contact have resulted in cases of monkeypox. If you plan to attend an event, consider how much close, personal, skin-to-skin contact is likely to occur there.
There are no treatments specifically for monkeypox virus infections. However, because of genetic similarities in the viruses, antiviral drugs used to treat smallpox may be used to treat monkeypox infections.
Because monkeypox and smallpox viruses are genetically similar, vaccines developed to protect against smallpox viruses may be used to prevent monkeypox infections.
The U.S. government has two stockpiled vaccines—JYNNEOS and ACAM2000—that can prevent monkeypox in people who are exposed to the virus.
CDC recommends vaccination for people who have been exposed to monkeypox and people who may be more likely to get monkeypox, including:
- People who have been identified by public health officials as a contact of someone with monkeypox
- People who know one of their sexual partners 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
If you think you may be eligible for vaccination, contact a healthcare provider or your local health department. They can help you determine if you should get vaccinated.
No. Having multiple sexual partners is one consideration, but there are others, such as whether you live in an area with ongoing spread of monkeypox or if one of your partners has recently been infected with monkeypox. If you think you have monkeypox or might be at risk for infection, contact a healthcare provider.
No, CDC does not recommend widespread vaccination against monkeypox at this time. During this outbreak, people who are sexually active are not considered to be at risk for monkeypox unless their sexual partners have monkeypox or they have had multiple sexual partners within the past 14 days in areas where monkeypox cases have been reported.
Monkeypox and HIV
Current data suggest that about 40% of people diagnosed with monkeypox in the United States had HIV. However, CDC doesn’t know if having HIV increases the likelihood of monkeypox virus infection once exposed.
Monkeypox can spread through close, personal, often skin-to-skin contact, including direct contact with rashes or scabs on a person with monkeypox. Monkeypox can also spread through contact with respiratory secretions, through kissing and other face-to-face contact, or contact with objects, fabrics (clothing, bedding, or towels), and surfaces that someone with monkeypox has used. Learn more about how monkeypox spreads.
Limited data suggest that people with HIV, particularly people with low CD4 counts (<350 cells/ml) or who are not virally suppressed, are more likely to be hospitalized than people without HIV.
Currently there is no treatment approved specifically for monkeypox. However, medicines used to treat smallpox are considered safe and may be used to treat people who are more likely to get severely ill. Talk to your health care provider.
Learn more about monkeypox treatment.
Based on what we know, monkeypox treatments have few interactions with HIV medicines. If you have HIV, let your health care provider know before starting monkeypox treatment.
There are currently two vaccines (JYNNEOS and ACAM2000) that can be used to prevent monkeypox. JYNNEOS vaccine is authorized for the prevention of monkeypox and is considered safe for people with HIV. CDC does not recommend the ACAM2000 vaccine for people with HIV due to the increased risk of serious side effects.
Talk to your health care provider to see if you should get vaccinated against monkeypox.
HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and HIV post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) are still effective for preventing HIV even if you have received monkeypox vaccine, have monkeypox, or are taking monkeypox treatment. If you have been prescribed HIV PrEP or HIV PEP by your health care provider, you should continue taking your medicine as prescribed.
Yes, HIV PrEP and PEP are different from monkeypox PrEP and PEP.
- HIV PrEP is medicine that reduces your chances of getting HIV. Monkeypox PrEP is a vaccination to prevent monkeypox and will not protect you from HIV.
- HIV PEP is medicine that can reduce your chances of getting HIV after a possible exposure. Monkeypox PEP is a vaccination after exposure.
People with HIV should follow the same recommendations as everyone else to protect themselves from monkeypox.
- Avoid direct contact with rashes or scabs on a person with monkeypox, including during intimate contact such as sex. We believe this is currently the most common way that monkeypox spreads in the United States.
- Avoid contact with objects, fabrics (clothing, bedding, or towels), and surfaces that someone with monkeypox has used.
- Avoid contact with respiratory secretions, through kissing and other face-to-face contact from a person with monkeypox.
Learn more about safer sex, social gatherings, and monkeypox.
Pets and Animals
Monkeypox is zoonotic, meaning it can spread between animals and people. However, CDC does not currently believe that monkeypox poses a high risk to pets. We are continuing to monitor the situation closely.