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Monkeypox is a rare disease that is caused by infection with monkeypox virus. Human-to-human transmission of monkeypox is thought to occur primarily through large respiratory droplets; but, it can also be transmitted by direct contact with body fluids or lesion material and indirect contact with lesion material, such as through contaminated clothing or linens.


Symptoms are similar to but milder than the symptoms of smallpox:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Exhaustion

One main difference is that monkeypox causes lymph nodes to swell, while smallpox does not. The time from infection to showing symptoms is usually 7-14 days, but may range from 5-21 days total. Please visit the CDC website to learn more.

If you think you’ve been infected, please contact your health care provider.

CDC is closely tracking cases of monkeypox that have been recently reported in several countries that don’t normally have monkeypox activity, including the United States. Learn more about the CDC response to monkeypox.

Frequently Asked Questions


What is monkeypox?


Monkeypox virus was first found in laboratory monkeys in 1958. It has also been found in various kinds of rodents and primates in Africa. It is a rare disease caused by the monkeypox virus, which is part of the orthopoxvirus family. Monkeypox is a milder disease and does not lead to the same level of disfigurement and death associated with smallpox, another orthopoxvirus. 


Who gets monkeypox?


Most human cases of monkeypox occur in central and western parts of Africa. The first human cases of monkeypox in the United States occurred in the Midwest in 2003 during an outbreak associated with imported animals. Other U.S. cases have rarely occurred among people who traveled to areas where the disease is more common. 


How is monkeypox spread?


Close intimate contact with infectious lesions, bodily fluids or contaminated objects can spread the monkeypox virus. Monkeypox virus can spread to people when bitten by an animal infected with monkeypox or when they touch the blood, body fluids, or lesions of an infected animal or person. 


What are the symptoms of monkeypox?


In humans, the signs and symptoms of monkeypox include:

  • pox lesions
  • fever
  • headache
  • backache
  • swollen lymph nodes
  • sore throat
  • cough

One to three days after the onset of fever, a blister-like rash usually appears first on the face and then spreads to other parts of the body. The blisters go through several stages before they get crusty, scab over and fall off. People with monkeypox are contagious until all lesions have scabbed over and have fallen off the person’s skin. The illness usually lasts for 2 – 4 weeks. In very rare cases, monkeypox can cause death.


How soon after exposure do symptoms appear?


Symptoms usually appear 7–14 days after exposure, with a range of 5–21 days.


How is monkeypox diagnosed?


Monkeypox is diagnosed through special laboratory tests on samples taken from people or animals suspected of having monkeypox.


What is the treatment for monkeypox?


Treatment consists of supportive care and relief of symptoms. There are few proven effective treatments specific for monkeypox, and treatments are being investigated. Once monkeypox infection is confirmed, isolation is important to reduce the spread.


How can I prevent getting monkeypox?


There are several steps to take to prevent getting or spreading monkeypox.

  • Avoid sexual contact, kissing or other intimate contact with people who have visible sores.
  • Avoid contact with animals that could carry the virus – including animals who are sick or that have been found dead in areas where monkeypox occurs.
  • Avoid contact with any materials, such as bedding, which have been in contact with a sick animal or person.
  • Separate infected patients from other people and animals who could be at risk for infection.
  • Wear proper personal protective equipment when caring for infected patients.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water after caring for infected patients.

Also, vaccines for smallpox and monkeypox might reduce the chances of getting monkeypox. However, the CDC provides recommendations about who should be vaccinated. For information about the vaccine, go to


Do I need to be concerned about my pets and monkeypox?


Some mammals can contract and transmit monkeypox. While there is much we do not know about animal transmission, the CDC has an excellent summary of animals and monkeypox: 


How can I get more information about monkeypox?


Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at:

The CDC is closely tracking reported cases and provides updates here:

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What You Need to Know About Monkeypox

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Monkeypox is rare. Here’s how to protect yourself and your family and when to contact a medical provider.

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Last Updated: September 29, 2022
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