Updated on August 17, 2022
It is important to know how monkeypox could be spread, its symptoms, and what to do if you develop symptoms. We will keep you updated as more information becomes available.
Monkeypox is caused by a virus that can spread from animals to humans. It can also spread from person to person. It causes a skin rash that can look like pimples or blisters. It may also cause flu-like symptoms such as fever, tiredness, and/or muscle aches.
The most common are flu-like symptoms and a rash. Sometimes, people have flu-like symptoms before the rash. Some people get a rash first, followed by other symptoms. Others only experience a rash.
Many people who have a monkeypox infection first have flu-like symptoms:
- Muscle aches and back pain
- Low energy/ tiredness
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Sore throat, runny nose, or cough
People with a monkeypox infection may develop a rash which can last for two to four weeks:
- The rash can initially look like pimples or blisters and may be painful or itchy.
- The rash will go through several stages, including scabs, before healing.
- The rash can be found on the face, palms, soles of the feet, eyes, mouth, throat, groin, and genitals (penis, testicles, labia, and vagina) and/or anal regions.
- The rash may be spread out or limited to one part of the body and can be in places that are difficult for someone to see.
Anyone who has symptoms that could be monkeypox or who has been in contact with someone who has monkeypox should seek advice from a health care provider.
People remain infectious until all the sores have crusted over, the scabs fallen off and a new layer of skin has formed underneath.
Monkeypox spreads from person to person through:
- Direct or close contact with someone who has a monkeypox rash through face-to-face, skin-to-skin, mouth-to-mouth, or mouth-to-skin contact, including sexual contact.
- Touching objects, fabrics (clothing, bedding, or towels), and surfaces that have been used by someone with monkeypox.
- Contact with fluids from the mouth, nose, throat, or lungs from a person with monkeypox.
The monkeypox virus does not spread easily between people like COVID-19 or the flu. People who do not have symptoms are not considered infectious.
People remain infectious until all the sores have crusted over, the scabs fallen off and a new layer of skin has formed underneath
Monkeypox can also spread to people when they come into physical contact with an infected animal, which include rodents and (such as monkeys, dogs, anteaters, hedgehogs, prairie dogs, squirrels, apes, and shrews).
Contact your healthcare provider if you have symptoms that could be monkeypox.
People who live with or have close contact (including sexual contact) with someone who has monkeypox, or who has regular contact with animals who could be infected, are most at risk.
Health workers should follow infection prevention and control measures to protect themselves while caring for patients who have a monkeypox infection.
Anyone who has close physical contact of any kind with someone who has monkeypox is at risk, regardless of who they are, what they do, who they have sex with or any other factor. The virus does not only spread through sexual contact, but also through any form of close contact with someone who is infectious.
Reduce your risk of catching monkeypox by limiting close contact with people who have suspected or confirmed monkeypox, or with animals who could be infected. Regularly clean and disinfect surfaces/ environments that have been touched by someone who has a monkeypox infection.
Keep yourself informed about monkeypox in your area and have open conversations with those you come into close contact (especially sexual contact) with about any symptoms you or they may have.
What should I do if I think I may have monkeypox symptoms or have been exposed to someone who has monkeypox?
If you have a new or unexplained rash or other symptoms of monkeypox, or if you have had close contact with someone who has monkeypox:
- Monitor yourself closely for signs and symptoms for 21 days after the time you were last exposed. Symptoms usually appear within 7-14 days after exposure.
- Limit close contact with other people, including sex or being intimate with anyone, until you have visited a healthcare provider.
- Contact your healthcare provider for advice, testing (if needed) and medical care. Wear a mask when you visit your healthcare provider, since monkeypox can spread through respiratory secretions during prolonged face-to-face interactions.
If you are advised to isolate at home, you should not go out. Protect others you live with as much as possible by:
- Isolating in a separate room, if possible
- Avoiding touching each other
- Cleaning your hands often
- Covering your rash with clothing or bandages (in the presence of other people)
- Opening windows throughout the home
- Using a separate bathroom, or cleaning after each use
- Cleaning frequently touched surfaces with soap and water and disinfectant
- Using separate utensils, towels, bedding and electronics
- Doing your own laundry (bedding, clothes and towels carefully without shaking them), put materials in a plastic bag before carrying it to the washing machine and wash them with hot water or if someone else needs to do it, they should wear a well-fitting medical mask, disposable gloves and take the precautions listed above.
People with monkeypox should follow the advice of their health care provider. Most people with monkeypox recover fully within 2 to 4 weeks without the need for medical treatment. If needed, medication for pain and fever can be used to relieve some symptoms.
Dos and Don’ts for the people with monkeypox rash:
- Avoid scratching the skin.
- Take care of the rash by cleaning hands before and after touching it.
- Keep skin dry.
- Keep the rash clean with clean water or antiseptic.
- Warm baths with baking soda and Epsom salts can help with pain or itchiness on the body.
- Saltwater rinses can be used to help pain or itchiness in the mouth.
- Local numbing ointments can be applied to soresl in or around the oral and anal areas to relieve pain.
Chickenpox is caused by a different virus (the varicella virus). Past exposure to chickenpox does not provide protection against monkeypox (caused by the monkeypox virus, which is an orthopoxvirus).
People who were vaccinated against smallpox may have some protection against monkeypox. However, younger people are unlikely to have been vaccinated against smallpox because smallpox vaccination stopped in most settings worldwide after it was eradicated in 1980. People who have been vaccinated against smallpox should continue to take precautions to protect themselves and others.
Please follow the links below for more information:
- Photos of monkeypox rash– CDC
- About Monkeypox– CDC
- Guidelines for management of monkeypox– MoHFW, GoI
This material was curated by Project SANCHAR and Viswanath Lab of Harvard Chan School of Public Health and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI). These are not the official views of Harvard Chan or DFCI. For any questions, comments or suggestions reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.