How It Spreads

Close or Intimate Contact

Mpox can spread to anyone through close, personal, often skin-to-skin contact, including:

  • Direct contact with mpox rash and scabs from a person with mpox, as well as contact with their saliva, upper respiratory secretions (snot, mucus), and areas around the anus, rectum, or vagina

This direct contact can happen during intimate contact, including:

  • Oral, anal, or vaginal sex, or touching the genitals (penis, testicles, labia, and vagina) or anus of a person with mpox
  • Hugging, massage, and kissing
  • Prolonged face-to-face contact

Touching Objects

Although less likely, mpox can be spread by touching objects, fabrics, and surfaces that have been used by someone with mpox and not disinfected, such as clothing, bedding, towels, fetish gear, or sex toys.

When can a person spread mpox?

  • From the time symptoms start until the rash has fully healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed.
  • Some people can spread mpox to others from 1 to 4 days before they have symptoms. It’s not clear how many people this has affected during the current outbreak.
  • There is currently no evidence that people who never have symptoms have spread the virus to someone else. CDC will continue to monitor the latest information about how mpox spreads.

Mpox and Pregnancy

Mpox virus can be spread to the fetus during pregnancy or to the newborn by close contact during and after birth.

Infected Animals

Some animals can be infected with mpox and spread it to people through close contact. This is more likely with wild animals, specifically small mammals like squirrels, rats, and mice that live in areas where mpox is endemic (found naturally, such as in West and Central Africa). A person can get mpox if they touch a rash, scab, crust, saliva, or other fluids from an infected animal. In areas where mpox is endemic, people may get mpox after hunting, trapping, or processing infected wild animals.

It’s less likely to get mpox from a pet, but it’s possible that a pet could get infected and spread mpox to a person during close contact like petting, cuddling, hugging, kissing, licking, and sharing sleeping spaces or food.

People should avoid close contact with an animal that might have mpox. It’s also possible that people with mpox can spread it to animals, so someone with mpox should avoid contact with animals, including pets.

Can mpox spread through water in pools, hot tubs, or splash pads?

No studies have found a clear link between mpox and water in pools, hot tubs, or splash pads. The mpox virus is killed in water at the chlorine levels recommended for disinfection in recreational water venues by CDC and required by U.S. jurisdictions.

Scientists are Still Researching

  • How often the virus can be spread when someone has no symptoms
  • How often and the circumstances in which mpox virus is spread through respiratory secretions
  • Whether mpox can be spread through semen, vaginal fluids, urine, or feces