About Monkeypox (MPX)
Monkeypox (MPX) is a rare viral illness. Anyone can get MPX, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Since mid-May 2022, cases of MPX have been identified in the U.S., where cases don't normally occur.
MPX symptoms often include a rash that can look like pimples or blisters. The rash can appear on the face, inside the mouth, and on other parts of the body, like the hands, feet, chest, genitals, or anus.
Other symptoms of MPX can include:
- Fever or chills
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Body aches (including muscle and back)
Some people do not have symptoms before a rash. The rash begins as a flat rash, then progresses to raised bumps which become filled with fluid (poxes). Eventually the rash crusts over and scabs develop. Some people may have only one sore, bump, or blister. This may look different from pictures you see online.
A person is infectious from symptom onset until scabs fall off and a fresh layer of healthy skin has formed. The illness can last as long as 3-4 weeks. Most people do not have serious complications from MPX but will need to stay home until they are no longer infectious.
How it spreads
MPX is spread through direct and indirect contact with the virus.
- Human-to-human transmission:
- Direct contact with body fluids or skin lesions (i.e., skin to skin contact) is the most common mode of human-to-human transmission.
- Transmission via respiratory particles can also occur but usually requires prolonged face-to-face contact.
- Clothing, bedding, and other objects:
- Transmission can occur from contact with contaminated clothing/bedding/towels or other objects used by a person with MPX.
- Animal-to-human transmission:
- Animal-to-human transmission may occur through a bite or scratch, preparation of wild game, and direct or indirect contact with body fluids or rash material (not a mode of transmission in the U.S.).
Symptoms develop approximately 12 days after a person has been exposed but may be as early as 5 days and as late as 21 days.
Take the following steps to prevent or decrease your risk for getting MPX:
- Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact, and sex (oral, anal, vaginal) with people whose infection status is unknown or with a history of recent travel to areas that are part of the current MPX outbreak.
- Having multiple or anonymous sex partners may increase your chances for exposure to MPX. Limiting your number of sex partners may reduce the possibility of exposure.
- Talk to your partner about any recent illness and be aware of new or unexplained rash on your body or your partner's body, including the genitals and anus. If you or your partner have recently been sick, currently feel sick, or have a new or an unexplained rash, do not have sex and see a health care provider.
- Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash that looks like MPX.
- Do not touch the rash or scabs of a person with MPX.
- Do not kiss, hug, cuddle, or have sex with someone with MPX.
- Do not share eating utensils or cups with a person with MPX.
- Do not handle or touch the bedding, towels, or clothing of a person with MPX.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- If you or your partner have (or think you might have) MPX and you decide to have sex, consider the following to reduce the chance of spreading the virus:
- Have virtual sex with no in-person contact.
- Masturbate together at a distance of at least 6 feet, without touching each other and without touching any rash.
- Consider having sex with your clothes on or covering areas where rash is present, reducing as much skin-to-skin contact as possible. If the rash is confined to the genitals or anus, condoms, or dental dams may help; however, condoms, or dental dams alone are likely not enough to prevent MPX.
- Avoid kissing.
- Remember to wash your hands, fetish gear, sex toys, and any fabrics (bedding, towels, clothing) after having sex.
At this time, it is not known if MPX can spread through semen, vaginal fluids, or other body fluids. We are trying to learn more.
While there are two vaccines available in the U.S. to prevent MPX, there is very little supply in Minnesota. To best reach people who are at highest risk of MPX, we are working with a few local public health departments and health care providers that already care for people at highest risk for MPX disease to vaccinate their patients. Learn more about this at Monkeypox Vaccine in Minnesota.
MPX rash may resemble sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as syphilis or herpes. Consult with a health care provider.
Free or low-cost STI testing sites:
- Red Door Clinic/ Hennepin County Public Health
525 Portland Avenue South, Minneapolis MN
- Clinic 555 / Ramsey County Public Health
555 Cedar Street, St. Paul MN
- Directory of Family Planning Services
Listing of publicly funded programs throughout Minnesota.
- Minnesota Family Planning and STD Hotline
Toll-free hotline for confidential information about the prevention, testing locations and treatment of STDs in Minnesota: 1-800-78-FACTS.
There is no specific treatment for MPX, although treatment with an antiviral may be beneficial for some individuals.
In certain situations, people who have been exposed to someone with MPX may benefit from receiving a MPX vaccine. These vaccines are not yet widely available. Public health will work to determine when vaccine should be recommended.