What You Need to Know About Monkeypox

Learn more about the current monkeypox outbreak, possible symptoms, and current treatments.


What is monkeypox?

Monkeypox (MPX) is a rare disease that is caused by infection with monkeypox virus. MPX is often associated with recent travel to central and western African countries where MPX is endemic. The MPX virus is normally contracted from close contact with animals or people carrying the virus. While it is related to the smallpox virus, MPX causes much less severe disease than smallpox.

Why is MPX a concern?

There has been a recent outbreak of MPX in Europe among gay and bisexual men. In the U.S., there are only a small number of cases of MPX that have been confirmed, but the total is likely to rise in the coming days as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) investigates more possible cases.

Scientists and health officials are concerned because most people do not have immunity to MPX infection. Additionally, MPX can be easily confused with syphilis or herpes, causing a delay in detection and increasing spread. Howard Brown Health is closely monitoring for MPX, and our primary care providers will be screening patients who are experiencing possible symptoms.

How is MPX spread?

MPX can be spread when a person comes into contact with the virus from an animal, human, or through contaminated material, like shared bedsheets. Person-to-person spread usually happens through large respiratory droplets over a prolonged period of time.

What are the symptoms of MPX?

MPX usually begins with the below symptoms:

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

Within one to three days after the appearance of fever, a rash develops, often beginning on the face then spreading to other parts of the body. Afterwards, sores can begin to develop over a period of two to three weeks. The severity of illness depends upon a person’s health, how they were exposed, and the strain of the virus. Typically MPX symptoms last for two to four weeks.

What is the treatment for MPX?

Currently, there is no proven, reliable, and safe treatment for MPX. The smallpox vaccine has been shown to be somewhat effective in preventing severe infection, and antiviral drugs are being explored as possible treatment.

More information about MPX

For more information about MPX, see this fact sheet from the CDC.

For information about MPX in Spanish, see this fact sheet from Building Healthy Online Communities.

Para obtener información sobre viruela de mono (MPX) en español, consulte esta hoja informativa de Building Health Online Communities.

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