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What is mpox?

Also known as hMPXV or monkeypox virus, mpox is a rare infectious disease caused by the mpox virus. It comes from the family that causes smallpox, though it is different because it is milder and also causes lymph nodes to swell. 

How is it transmitted?

It is transmitted by close contact through someone who has the mpox virus. Transmission occurs through direct skin-on-skin contact or through an exchange of body fluids. The virus can also spread by touching contaminated objects (such as bedding or clothing) or through respiratory droplets during direct and prolonged face-to-face contact. It is not a sexually transmitted infection (STI).

What are its signs and symptoms?

If you have been infected with mpox, your symptoms would likely start to show about two weeks after infection. Early signs of infection might be similar to those of the flu and could include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Backache
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Chills
  • Exhaustion

One of the telltale signs of mpox is a fever that lasts up to three days followed by a rash that develops and spreads to other parts of the body. These fluid-filled blisters (or lesions) will develop and eventually turn into scabs.

How do you treat mpox?

If you are experiencing mpox symptoms or believe you have been exposed to the mpox virus, please contact your medical provider about getting tested for the virus. Your provider will have details about how and where to get tested. If you test positive, you will be able to get a referral for treatment. Antiviral medications are available to treat the mpox virus.

If you were exposed to mpox but do not have symptoms yet, please talk to your health care provider about getting a vaccination. People who have been in close contact to those with mpox or individuals who are at high risk of infection can get vaccinated by their health care provider.

It generally takes two to four weeks for mpox lesions to heal. Until that time, you should:

    • Isolate yourself from pets and other people.
    • Cover your rash or lesions.
    • Do not let others touch your skin, especially those areas with a rash.
    • Do not share bedding, towels, dishes or utensils.
    • Wash your hands often.
    • Wash your own laundry and dishes.
    • Routinely clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces and items at home.

If you are experiencing mpox symptoms or believe you have been exposed to the mpox virus, please contact your provider for more information.

Who can get mpox?

Mpox has been around for decades and is not limited to one community or another. But, with this specific outbreak, groups at highest risk include men who have had sex with other men, particularly with multiple partners. Again, mpox is not expressly a STD; this specific community just happens to be the first one affected directly by the outbreak.

Another group at high risk is anyone who has had close, prolonged skin-to-skin contact — but not necessarily sexual — with someone who is infected. This includes family or household members, such as roommates.

Who is eligible to receive a mpox vaccine?

Vaccines are free and available only to high-risk patients, per specific guidelines set by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These guidelines prioritize people with known or suspected exposure to the virus.

Persons eligible for mpox vaccine include:

  • Anyone who has been identified by public health as a contact of someone with mpox.
  • Anyone who has had close contact with someone with mpox.
  • Laboratory workers who routinely perform mpox virus testing.
  • Clinicians who have had a high-risk occupational exposure (e.g., examined mpox lesions or collected mpox specimens without using recommended personal protective equipment).
  • Anyone who anticipates having or has had recent direct skin-to-skin contact with at least one other person AND who knows other people in their social circles or communities who have had mpox.

If you meet one of the criteria above, you are eligible to schedule a mpox vaccine appointment at one of our upcoming clinics.