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Monkeypox

Monkeypox

Frequently Asked Questions

A: Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus, which belongs to the family of viruses that includes variola virus (which causes smallpox), vaccinia virus (used in the smallpox vaccine), and cowpox virus, but it is not related to chickenpox. Monkeypox does not spread easily between people without close contact. The threat of monkeypox to the general U.S. population remains LOW at this time.

As we have since the beginning of the outbreak, the Indian Health Service is taking a proactive approach focusing on public health education in tribal communities, contact tracing, access to testing, and access to available medical countermeasures, including vaccines and treatment.

A: People with monkeypox often get a rash. The rash can be in multiple places on the body, or it may be in a more concentrated in one area of the body. The rash may be located on or near the genitals (penis, testicles, labia, and vagina) or anus (butthole) and could be on other areas like the hands, feet, chest, face, or mouth.

  • The rash will go through several stages, including scabs, before healing.
  • The rash can initially look like pimples or blisters and that are typically painful and sometimes itchy.

Other symptoms of monkeypox can include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Exhaustion
  • Muscle aches and backache
  • Headache
  • Respiratory symptoms, such as sore throat, nasal congestion, or cough

You may experience all or only a few symptoms:

  • Sometimes, people have flu-like symptoms before the rash.
  • Some people get a rash first, followed by other symptoms.
  • Others only experience a rash, which may be in multiple places on the body, or in a concentrated area.

A: Monkeypox symptoms usually start within 3 weeks of exposure to the virus. If someone has flu-like symptoms, they will usually develop a rash 1-4 days later. Monkeypox can be spread from the time symptoms start until the rash has healed, all scabs have fallen off, and a fresh layer of skin has formed. The illness typically lasts 2-4 weeks.

If you have a new or unexplained rash or other symptoms:

  • Avoid close contact, including sex or being intimate with anyone, until you have been checked out by a health care provider.
  • Contact your health care provider or your local IHS, tribal, or urban Indian organization facility
  • When you see a health care provider, wear a mask, and remind them that this virus is circulating in the area.

A:

  • Direct contact with an infectious rash, scabs, or body fluids
  • Respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact, or during intimate physical contact, such as kissing, cuddling, or sex
  • Touching objects, fabrics (such as clothing or linens) that previously touched the rash or body fluids of someone with monkeypox
  • Being scratched or bitten by an infected animal
  • Monkeypox can be acquired by all people, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation
  • Monkeypox can spread from the time symptoms start until the rash has fully healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed. This can take several weeks.

A:

  • If you are awaiting monkeypox test results, remain in isolation until the diagnosis is confirmed or you are told that you do not have monkeypox.

  • People can spread monkeypox from the time symptoms start until all symptoms have resolved, including full healing of the rash with formation of a fresh layer of skin. Ideally, people with monkeypox would remain isolated at home or at another location Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov  for the duration of illness, which typically lasts two to four weeks. However, if a person with monkeypox is unable to remain fully isolated throughout the illness, they should do the following:
  • While symptomatic with a fever or any respiratory symptoms, including sore throat, nasal congestion, or cough, remain isolated in the home and away from others unless it is necessary to see a healthcare provider or for an emergency.
  • While a rash persists but in the absence of a fever or respiratory symptoms:
    • Cover all parts of the rash with clothing, gloves, and/or bandages.
    • Wear a well-fitting mask to prevent the wearer from spreading oral and respiratory secretions when interacting with others until the rash and all other symptoms have resolved.
    • Masks should fit closely on the face without any gaps along the edges or around the nose and be comfortable when worn properly over the nose and mouth.
  • If you are awaiting monkeypox test results, remain in isolation until the diagnosis is confirmed or you are told that you do not have monkeypox.

A: The CDC recommends vaccination for people who have been exposed to monkeypox. Contact your health care provider or your local IHS, tribal, or urban Indian organization facility today to see if you should get vaccinated against monkeypox.

People more likely to get monkeypox include:

  • People who have been identified by public health officials as a contact of someone with monkeypox
  • People who are aware that one of their sexual partners in the past 2 weeks has been diagnosed with monkeypox
  • People who had multiple sexual partners in the past 2 weeks in an area with known monkeypox

The preferred vaccine to protect against monkeypox is JYNNEOS, which is a two-dose vaccine. It takes 14 days after getting the second dose of JYNNEOS for its immune protection to reach its maximum.

A: Monkeypox testing is available both through public health laboratories (CDC and state health departments) as well as many commercial reference labs. IHS patients should consult with their health care provider or public health staff about testing options if they have symptoms of monkeypox or may have been exposed to monkeypox.

Last Updated: September 1, 2022