Skip to main content

Military Health System

What You Need to Know About Monkeypox

Image of A human hand with sores. Monkeypox symptoms include fever, a rash, skin blisters, and others. (Photo: National Health Service England High Consequence Infectious Diseases Network and CDC)

Recommended Content:

Monkeypox | Public Health

The infectious viral disease monkeypox is slowly spreading around the world, including the United States. On August 4, the United States formally declared it a public health emergency.

Monkeypox can spread by anyone to anyone. While international, national, state, and local health officials closely monitor the outbreak, Military Health System officials are carefully tracking the spread as well.

As of August 4, U.S. counts are approximately 7,000 probable or confirmed cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC maintains a public daily case count dashboard. The number may seem small, but it increases daily.

While there are few cases reported among military personnel and their families, the declaration of a national health emergency means that it constitutes a "public health risk to other states through the international spread of disease,” according to the World Health Organization.

Defense health officials emphasize that if you think you may have monkeypox, “the first thing to do…is ensure you are not further exposing other people, which means not having close, intimate contact with others until you are asymptomatic,” said Army Lt. Col. (Dr.) Scott Robinson, the Public Health Emergency officer for the Defense Health Agency.

What Does Monkeypox Look and Feel Like?

The disease most commonly starts with fever, then painful lymph nodes and a rash that typically develops one to three days after the fever begins, according to the CDC.

The rash is the most significant feature of monkeypox, spreading into small, fluid-filled blisters. They become round and hard, like pimples, and then scab.

You may also have headache, muscle aches, chills, and exhaustion that begin between seven to 14 days after exposure but can develop between five to 21 days post-exposure.

You are no longer infectious once your scabs have healed, dropped off, and healthy new skin has grown where the lesions were located. That usually takes two to four weeks, according to Robinson.

Children under 8 years old, people who are pregnant or immunocompromised, and individuals with a history of atopic dermatitis or eczema may be at increased risk for severe outcomes from monkeypox.

Transmission

The CDC states that monkeypox is far less contagious than COVID-19 or the flu because you get it from an infected person when you come in direct contact with the rash on their skin, their lesions, or bodily fluids, or if you touch bedding or clothing that has come in contact with those.

You can also get monkeypox through droplets that disperse during prolonged face-to-face contact, such as kissing or cuddling, and through direct, intimate physical contact such as sex, according to the CDC.

Animals, such as dogs or cats, in an infected person’s household can become infected and transmit it to others. In Africa, infected wild animals are a common way people become infected.

Pain as a Symptom

Sometimes, the only sign of monkeypox is severe pain, Robinson said.

That can be because there may be ulcers inside patients’ mouths, urethra, or rectum where the patient can’t see them but feels severe pain that may require hospitalization.

“For sexually active people, I’d be concerned if they developed pain, even if it’s somewhere I can’t see. I’d want to get that checked out by a health care professional,” Robinson said.

The infection can also cause lymph nodes in the groin area or on the soft tissue of your neck to swell, which should concern the patient and lead to a check-up, he explained.

Blister-like lesions are a symptom of monkeypox. (Photo: Image used under license from Shutterstock.com)
Blister-like lesions are a symptom of monkeypox. (Image used under license from Shutterstock.com)

What To Do for Suspected Monkeypox

If you think you’ve been exposed, notify your medical provider, and monitor yourself for symptoms for 21 days after your last close contact with an infected individual.

You may have to isolate yourself from other members of your household to limit the spread of the disease, including from pets. This means not having close contact, including touching or other physical contact, no prolonged face-to-face encounters, and not engaging in sex.

If you have a fever or a growing rash, see your medical health care professional in person.

Your medical provider will help you determine your risk of becoming ill with monkeypox and may offer preventive treatment if you are at high risk.

If you get a diagnosis of monkeypox, your medical provider must place you in isolation and treat you according to CDC guidelines for infection control.

Most patients with monkeypox have mild disease and don’t require medical intervention, CDC said. However, treatments are available and appear effective in reducing pain and duration of symptoms.

Treatment

The most common treatment for monkeypox includes supportive care, such as hydration and treatment of secondary bacterial infections.

There’s also an approved vaccine called Jynneos for monkeypox and antivirals that doctors may use in certain situations immediately after patient exposure, but these are not widely available in the United States. They are available from the government’s national stockpile of medicines.

“The treatments have been shown to be pretty good at preventing severe illness,” Robinson said.

“The earlier you get them, the better,” he noted, adding that “early treatment can prevent you from having symptoms or at least making sure that your symptoms are relatively mild.”

Seeking Care

[See also: How to Get Urgent Care Under Your TRICARE Health Plan]

If you experience monkeypox-like symptoms, Military Health System beneficiaries have resources available at military hospitals and clinics or within the TRICARE network of providers:

  • Notify your medical provider
  • Call the MHS Nurse Advice Line, open 24/7, at 1-800-TRICARE (874-2273)
  • Select Option 1, to talk to a registered nurse who can:
    • Answer your urgent care questions
    • Give you health care advice
    • Help you find a doctor
    • Schedule next-day appointments at military hospitals and clinics
  • Go to a TRICARE-authorized urgent care center, convenience clinic, or network provider:
    • Active-duty service members must first contact their primary care manager/provider or contact the Nurse Advice Line for a referral before visiting an urgent care center.
    • TRICARE Prime enrollees, other than active duty, only need a referral to see an out-of-network provider. Without a referral, they may incur higher point-of-service costs.

Resources

The CDC has published an extensive monkeypox resource library, to include fact sheets on transmission and treatment. Health.mil, the official Military Health System web site, maintains a monkeypox information page.

ArmyAir Force, and Navy and Marine Corps medical services also maintain fact sheets and reference materials.

MHS clinicians seeking vaccines for monkeypox post-exposure prophylaxis are encouraged to contact the DHA Immunization Healthcare Division’s 24/7 immunization clinical support center for assistance.

You also may be interested in...

Eligible Airmen, Guardians Have Access to More Monkeypox Vaccines

Article Around MHS
8/24/2022
Military medical personnel administers vaccine to Soldier

Airmen and Guardians at high risk of transmission now have more access to safety measures against the monkeypox outbreak.

Recommended Content:

Monkeypox

Taking the stings out of summer fun

Article
8/15/2022
Beekeeper in protective gear holds framework with bees and honey..

What you should know and do about bee, wasp, and hornet stings

Recommended Content:

Vector-Borne Illnesses | Summer Safety | Public Health

What You Need to Know about Monkeypox if You are a Teen or Young Adult

Fact Sheet
8/11/2022

Fact sheet from the CDC describing monkeypox and providing guidance to teens and youth.

Recommended Content:

Monkeypox

Monkeypox Declared Public Health Emergency: What Airmen and Guardians Need to Know

Article Around MHS
8/4/2022
Microscopic view of monkeypox virus

The World Health Organization declared monkeypox a public health emergency on July 23. With more than 4,000 cases in the United States, Airmen and Guardians should know the risks and how to stay safe.

Recommended Content:

Monkeypox | Public Health

Army Experts: Rabies Risk is Not Worth It

Article
7/5/2022
Army Experts: Rabies Risk is Not Worth It

Almost 60,000 people around the world die from rabies each year. Despite the common belief that rabid animals are easily identified by foaming at the mouth and aggressive behavior, infected animals may not look sick or act strangely.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Public Health | Rabies

MSMR Vol. 29 No. 07 - July 2022

Report
7/1/2022

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Surveillance trends for SARS-CoV-2 and other respiratory pathogens among U.S. Military Health System Beneficiaries, Sept. 27, 2020 – Oct. 2,2021; Establishment of SARS-CoV-2 genomic surveillance within the MHS during March 1 – Dec. 31 2020; Suicide behavior among heterosexual, lesbian/gay, and bisexual active component service members in the U.S. Armed Forces; Brief report: Phase I results using the Virtual Pooled Registry Cancer Linkage system (VPR-CLS) for military cancer surveillance.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Public Health | Medical Surveillance Monthly Report

Four-legged Major Brings Joy to Brooke Army Medical Center

Article Around MHS
6/23/2022
Labrador facility dogs at ceremony

Brooke Army Medical Center commissioned a new, four-legged staff member with a penchant for spreading joy to the rank of United States Army major during a ceremony June 6.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 29 No. 06 - June 2022

Report
6/1/2022

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Absolute and relative morbidity burdens attributable to various illnesses and injuries, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2021; Hospitalizations, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2021; Ambulatory visits, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2021; Surveillance snapshot: Illness and injury burdens, re¬serve component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2021; Surveillance snapshot: Illness and injury burdens, recruit trainees, U.S. Armed Forces, 2021; Medical evacuations out of the U.S. Central and U.S. Africa Commands, active and reserve components, U.S. Armed Forces, 2021; Morbidity burdens attributable to various illnesses and injuries, deployed active and reserve component service members, U.S. Armed Forces, 2021; Absolute and relative morbidity burdens attributable to various illnesses and injuries, non-service member ben¬eficiaries of the Military Health System, 2021

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Public Health

Physical Disability Board of Review Process Chart

Fact Sheet
5/12/2022

This document shows the flow chart for how the PDBR processes requests for reviews of disability ratings.

Recommended Content:

Public Health | Physical Disability Board of Review | Physical Disability Board of Review | Physical Disability Board of Review

MSMR Vol. 29 No. 05 - May 2022

Report
5/1/2022

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Update: Sexually transmitted infections, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2013–2021; Evaluation of ICD-10-CM-based case definitions of ambulatory encounters for COVID-19 among Department of Defense health care beneficiaries; The association between two bogus items, demographics, and military characteristics in a 2019 cross-sectional survey of U.S. Army soldiers; Surveillance snapshot: Tick-borne encephalitis in Military's Health System beneficiaries, 2012–2021.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Public Health

Military Medical Officials Back FY 23 Budget Before Senate Appropriations Committee

Article
4/6/2022
Marines with Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing take precautionary measures by cleaning and disinfecting their hands during field day on Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., March 20, 2020, to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 while continuing to perform mission-essential tasks. (Photo: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jaime Reyes)

Military Medical officials, including Army Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Ronald J. Place, Defense Health Agency director, back FY 23 Budget before the Senate Appropriations Committee, March 29, 2022.

Recommended Content:

Public Health | Coronavirus & the MHS Response

The New Public Health Director Talks about His Goals for Force Readiness

Article
4/5/2022
Rear Admiral Brandon Taylor of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps in dress whites at the 2019 National Independence Day Parade where he represented the U.S. Surgeon General as a presiding official with the other services. Taylor was named in February as the new director of the Defense Health Agency’s Public Health directorate. (Photo: Tanisha Blaise, Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division senior public relations and media specialist)

Rear Adm. Brandon Taylor was recently appointed to be the new director for the Defense Health Agency’s Public Health directorate. In an interview, he discussed how he is approaching his new role, his goals for Public Health within DHA, and the importance of Public Health to a medically ready force and a ready medical force.

Recommended Content:

Public Health | Health Readiness & Combat Support | Military Health System Transformation

MSMR Vol. 29 No. 04 - April 2022

Report
4/1/2022

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Exertional heat illness at Fort Benning, GA: Unique insights from the Army Heat Center; Update: Heat illness, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2021; Update: Exertional rhabdomyolysis, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2017–2021; Update: Exertional hyponatremia, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2006–2021

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Public Health

Public Health Week

Infographic
3/15/2022
Public Health Week

Today is #NationalPublicHealthWeek! After experiencing a pandemic first-hand, we can probably all agree public health is a vital concern. Thank you to all those doctors, nurses, and researchers who are working hard towards building bridges to better health!

Recommended Content:

April | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 29 No. 03 - March 2022

Report
3/1/2022

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Update: Malaria, U.S. Armed Forces, 2021; Obesity prevalence among active component service members prior to and during the COVID-19 pandemic, January 2018–July 2021; Brief report: Refractive surgery trends at tri-service refractive surgery centers and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, fiscal years 2000–2020; Brief report: Using syndromic surveillance to monitor MIS-C associated with COVID-19 in Military Health System beneficiaries; Surveillance snapshot: Medical separation from service among incident cases of osteoarthritis and spondylosis, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2016–2020

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Public Health
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 16 - 30 Page 2 of 27
Refine your search
Last Updated: August 18, 2022
Follow us on Instagram Follow us on LinkedIn Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on YouTube Sign up on GovDelivery