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Health and Community Services Department

Monkeypox

What is monkeypox (MPV/MPX)?

Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus and spreads through close physical contact. Outbreaks have spread across several countries that don’t normally report monkeypox, including the United States. 

The disease can make you sick, including a rash, which may look like bumps on your skin, pimples, blisters, or ulcers. Some people have a flu-like illness before they develop a rash. Infections with the strain of monkeypox virus identified in the recent U.S. outbreak are rarely fatal, and most people recover in 2-4 weeks.

If you think you may have been exposed or have symptoms, contact your healthcare provider immediately.

Anyone who has been in close contact with someone who has monkeypox is at risk. While many of those affected in the current global outbreaks are gay, bisexual, or other men who have sex with men, anyone who has been in close contact with someone who has monkeypox can get the illness, regardless of sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

Click here for a general monkeypox fact sheet (7/15/22)

Click here for a general monkeypox fact sheet in Spanish (7/15/22)

How is monkeypox spread?

Monkeypox is usually spread from one person to another through close, often skin-to skin contact. Routes of transmission include:

  • Direct contact with monkeypox rash, sores, or scabs from a person with monkeypox. CDC believes this is currently the most common way that monkeypox is spreading in the U.S.
  • Monkeypox can be transmitted during sex through skin-to-skin and other intimate sexual contact (such as kissing, cuddling, or massage).
  • Contact with objects, fabrics (clothing, bedding, or towels), and surfaces that have been used by someone with monkeypox.
  • Through respiratory droplets or oral fluids (saliva) through kissing, sharing eating utensils or cups, and other face-to-face contact.
  • Click here for more information about how monkeypox can spread.

How is monkeypox spread?

What are the symptoms of monkeypox?

People with monkeypox get a rash that may be located on or near the genitals (penis, testicles, labia, and vagina) or anus (butthole) and could be on other areas like the hands, feet, chest, face, or mouth.

  • The rash will go through several stages, including scabs, before healing.
  • The rash can initially look like pimples or blisters and may be painful or itchy.

Other symptoms of monkeypox can include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Exhaustion
  • Muscle aches and backache
  • Headache
  • Respiratory symptoms (e.g. sore throat, nasal congestion, or cough)

You may experience all or only a few symptoms

  • Sometimes, people have flu-like symptoms before the rash.
  • Some people get a rash first, followed by other symptoms.
  • Others only experience a rash.

Most people with monkeypox recover in 2-4 weeks, but the disease can be serious, especially for immunocompromised people, children, and pregnant people.

  • Symptoms usually start within two weeks of exposure to the virus but can start up to three weeks later.
  • Within 1-4 days of symptoms beginning, people usually develop a rash or sores.
  • The sores might be located on or near the genitals or anus, but sometimes occur in other areas like the hands, feet, chest, face, or in the mouth. Sores often go through several stages before healing, which takes about 3 weeks.
  • Monkeypox can be spread from the time symptoms start until the rash has healed, all scabs have fallen off, and a fresh layer of skin has formed.

Visual Examples of Monkeypox Rash

What should I do if I have symptoms or was exposed?

  • The time from infection to having symptoms is usually 7-14 days but can range from 5-21 days.
  • CDC What to Do if You are a Close Contact of a Person With Monkeypox
  • Contact your healthcare provider immediately if you develop a new, unexplained, rash or lesions on any part of the body and avoid sex or other close, intimate contact until you have been checked out.
  • Avoid gatherings, especially if they involve close, personal, skin-to-skin contact or prolonged face-to-face contact.
  • Talk to your partner/s about any recent illness and be aware of new or unexplained sores or rashes on your body or your partner’s body, including rashes on the genitals and anus.
  • People with new rashes should also be aware that the rate of syphilis is rising in the U.S., MI, and in Kalamazoo County.  Syphilis - STD information from CDC Monkeypox can occur at the same time as, and may have a similar appearance to, other sexually transmitted infections including syphilis.
  • If you have been exposed to monkeypox, have a new rash, and do not have a health care provider; call the health department to see if monkeypox testing is appropriate for you.
  • Click here for a What to Do if I Was Exposed Fact Sheet

Four things you can do if you are exposed to monkeypox

How do you test for monkeypox?

  • You must have a rash or sores to get a monkeypox test. A swab is rubbed against the sores on your skin or parts of your rash. The test is sent to a specialized lab for testing. Results should be available within a few days.
  • Your healthcare provider may also do blood tests for other infections that can look like monkeypox.

What should I do if I’m diagnosed with monkeypox?

How to take care of yourself when diagnosed with Monkeypox

How can I lower my risk for monkeypox?

A person’s identity does not put them at risk for monkeypox. A person’s risk is determined by the people they come into close physical contact with. The risk of monkeypox is not limited to people who are sexually active or men who have sex with men. Click here for additional information on transmission risk by activity.

Having sex or close physical contact with multiple or anonymous partners can put you at higher risk for monkeypox if it is spreading in the community. If attending an event, consider how much close, personal, skin-to-skin contact is likely to occur at the event you plan to attend.

Avoid contact with any materials that have been in contact with an infected person.

If you feel sick or have any rashes or sores, avoid sex and gatherings, especially if they involve close skin-to-skin contact or prolonged face-to-face contact, and see a healthcare provider. Safer sex information

Click here for additional information from the CDC on safer sex and social gatherings.

Is there a treatment for monkeypox?

There are no treatments specifically for monkeypox virus infections. However, monkeypox and smallpox viruses are genetically similar, which means that antiviral drugs and vaccines developed to protect against smallpox may be used to prevent and treat monkeypox virus infections.

 Antivirals, such as tecovirimat (TPOXX), may be recommended for people who are more likely to get severely ill, like patients with weakened immune systems.

Treatments for MPV cases are currently available through the Strategic National Stockpile. Clinicians evaluating MPV patients should be aware of the clinical considerations and process of requesting TPOXX (Tecovirimat) for their patients.

CDC Patient’s Guide to Monkeypox Treatment with TPOXX

Case Counts in U.S., Michigan, and Kalamazoo County

U.S. Cases: Click here for an interactive map

Michigan and County Cases

Monkeypox Epi Data

Who can I contact if I have questions?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides a comprehensive overview on their website: Monkeypox | Poxvirus | CDC.

You may also call Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services at 269-373-5044 to speak with a Communicable Disease nurse.

(Page last updated 10/27/2022)

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