Frequently Asked Questions about Monkeypox

Monkeypox is an illness caused by the monkeypox virus. Common symptoms of monkeypox can include fever, headache, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, and a rash that can look like pimples or blisters and may be painful or itchy. The rash may be on the face, the inside of the mouth, hands, feet, chest, genitals, or anus. Symptoms are usually mild or moderate and typically resolve within 2-4 weeks. Monkeypox is rarely fatal. 

There is a growing outbreak of monkeypox in the U.S. and globally, and currently cases have primarily been in men who have sex with men. The White House declared monkeypox a national public health emergency on August 4, 2022 and the World Health Organization declared a global health emergency in late July 2022. 

Updated August 8, 2022 

Monkeypox spreads through direct skin-to-skin contact with the infection rash, scabs, or body fluids. It can also be spread through respiratory droplets during prolonged, face-to-face contact or during intimate physical contact. Any person, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation, can acquire and spread monkeypox. Currently, the vast majority of the known monkeypox cases are among men who have sex with men.

Updated August 8, 2022 

Anyone can contract monkeypox but to date the vast majority of the cases have been in men who have sex with men, and the general population is currently at low risk of contracting the infection.

The CDC recommends vaccination for people who have been in close contact with people who have monkeypox. The current supply of the vaccine is limited, and so currently vaccination is prioritized for individuals at high risk. Eligibility for vaccination varies locally, but typically includes groups considered to be at high risk for monkeypox, including:

  • People who have been in close physical contact with someone with monkeypox in the past two weeks
  • People who have had multiple sexual partners in the past two weeks in an area with known monkeypox cases
  • People whose jobs may expose them to monkeypox, including some healthcare or public health workers

The preferred vaccine to protect against monkeypox is Jynneos. There is a limited supply of Jynneos, but more is expected in the coming weeks and months. Guidelines may be expanded to others (at some, but lower risk) as vaccine supply increases). The alternative to Jynneos is the ACAM2000 vaccine, but it is not recommended for people with weakened immune systems and has the potential for more side effects. Contact your local health department for information about vaccine eligibility and testing.

Updated August 8, 2022 

Monkeypox is much less contagious and less likely to cause severe illness or death than COVID-19. The spread of monkeypox is also different than the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic in a few key ways:

  • There is already a vaccine for monkeypox.
  • Monkeypox can be treated with available antiviral medicines.
  • While COVID-19 passed easily from person to person, monkeypox does not spread as easily between people. Monkeypox transmission typically requires skin-to-skin contact, direct contact with body fluids, or prolonged, close face-to-face contact.

Updated August 8, 2022