For your safety: Masks are still required at Hillsboro Medical Center and all clinics.

Monkeypox (hMPXV) virus is a viral illness that results in a rash that can be localized or spread throughout the body. It is most commonly transmitted by close skin-to-skin contact with another infected person.

Signs & Symptoms

Monkeypox virus may begin with:

  • Backache
  • Chills
  • Exhaustion
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Swollen lymph nodes

Individuals with monkeypox develop a rash within 1-4 days after the appearance of a fever. The rash is often painful and can become itchy during the healing phase.

The incubation period (time from infection to symptoms) for monkeypox is usually 7−14 days but can range from 5−21 days.

The illness typically lasts for 2−4 weeks.

If Experiencing Symptoms…

  • If you’re in a high-risk group or one of your close contacts develops monkeypox and you also develop an unfamiliar rash or experience other monkeypox symptoms, you should contact your primary care physician or a health care provider.
  • Monkeypox  can be diagnosed by a health professional who collects a sample from a lesion and runs it through a PCR lab test, similar to the lab tests offered for COVID-19.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is monkeypox?

Human monkeypox virus, also known as hMPXV, is an infectious disease caused by the monkeypox virus.

The virus is part of a family of viruses called poxviruses that include smallpox. Poxviruses cause a painful rash that can look like pimples or blisters. A poxvirus infection can also cause health problems and, rarely, death.

The virus was first reported in 1958 after it sickened monkeys in a research center in Denmark. The virus became known as monkeypox even though the monkeys were not the source. Scientists believe rodents carry the virus.

The World Health Organization is discussing a name change. One possible name is orthopoxvirus, after the genus (a biological category) that the virus belongs to.

What are the signs and symptoms of monkeypox?

The most common symptom of monkeypox is a rash or sores that often look like pus-filled pimples or blisters. These pimples can burst, leading to painful or itchy open sores that contain live, infectious virus.

These sores can be present all over the body or limited to certain body parts. Other symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion, and respiratory symptoms such as a sore throat, congestion or coughing.

Symptoms usually start within three weeks of being exposed to the virus.

Is monkeypox deadly?

No one in the U.S. and very few people worldwide have died from the current outbreak to date. It can cause more severe disease in children and people with compromised immune systems. In central and western Africa, where the disease is more common and where different strains that cause more severe disease circulate, hMPXV has an estimated mortality rate of somewhere between 1% and 10%.

How does monkeypox spread?

The virus is more difficult to spread than the cold, flu and COVID-19.

It mostly spreads through direct or indirect contact with an infected person’s skin lesions, bodily fluids or personal items, such as clothing, bedding or towels.

OHSU Health experts say that casual contact, such as a handshake, is highly unlikely to spread hMPXV. Scientists are studying whether the virus can spread through airborne droplets, but believe that’s rare.

If you are pregnant and become infected with hMPXV, you can pass it:

  • To your fetus through the placenta.
  • To your newborn during close contact after birth.

How do I know if it’s monkeypox or another skin disease?

If you develop a rash or other monkeypox (hMPXV) symptoms, you should contact your primary care physician or a healthcare provider, especially if you are in a high-risk group or have been exposed to someone with hMPXV. The virus can be diagnosed by a health professional who collects a sample from a lesion and runs it through a PCR lab test, similar to the lab tests offered for COVID-19.

How long does monkeypox take to heal?

It generally takes 2-4 weeks for the lesions to heal, at which point a person is no longer infectious. Once people have recovered, the disease has run its course and they can no longer spread it to anyone else.

How can I protect myself and others from monkeypox?

Those in high-risk groups should speak with their health care provider about getting vaccinated against monkeypox (hMPXV). People living with HIV/AIDS or other conditions that weaken the immune system are more vulnerable to becoming seriously ill if they get hMPXV, and should proactively speak with their health care provider to ensure their immune systems are sufficiently boosted.

OHSU Health experts recommend that you avoid:

  • Having unprotected contact with an infected person’s skin lesions, body fluids or personal items.
  • Having lengthy face-to-face contact (within 6 feet) with an infected person without masks.

The CDC recommends that people consider limiting sex partners and avoiding sex parties to reduce the risk of getting the virus until they are vaccinated.

If you share a household or health care setting with an infected person, you can use common household disinfectants to kill hMPXV on shared surfaces and personal items. In the home, contaminated bedding or clothing should not be shaken, but instead folded or rolled up, and then washed in a washing machine with detergent.

Those who become infected should isolate themselves to prevent spreading it to others.

Which vaccines can prevent monkeypox?

There are two vaccines that can prevent monkeypox (hMPXV) infection. The JYNNEOS vaccine is a two-dose injection that’s approved by Food and Drug Administration for hMPXV. Another vaccine, ACAM2000, is FDA-approved for smallpox.

Because hMPXV and smallpox are related, ACAM2000 can also be used for hMPXV. However, ACAM2000 is not recommended for some populations, including people who are pregnant or breastfeeding, have weakened immune systems, or have certain skin conditions, such as eczema or atopic dermatitis.

I may have been exposed to monkeypox. What should I do?

If you think you have been exposed to hMPXV:

  • Check yourself for symptoms for 21 days after your most recent exposure. This includes taking your temperature twice a day to check for fever. (The Oregon Health Authority recommends checking for a new rash, a fever of 100.4 or higher, swollen lymph nodes and chills.)
  • Stay away from group events.
  • Avoid public transportation.
  • Avoid donating blood, tissue, breast milk, semen or organs.

If you develop symptoms, you are encouraged to:

  • Stay away from people and pets (isolate).
  • Seek testing and medical care.
  • Cover your lesions if possible.
  • Wear a mask.
  • Fold or roll up infected bedding or clothing, and wash it in a washing machine.

How can I get vaccinated for monkeypox?

If you have been exposed, or are in a high-risk group such as men who have sex with other men call your health care provider or your local public health department to ask for a vaccine:

How is monkeypox treated?

Most people who get monkeypox recover without treatment in 2-4 weeks.

For more serious cases, the CDC and FDA allow the use of tecovirimat, or TPOXX, an antiviral drug approved for smallpox.

Although vaccination aims to prevent infection to begin with, even getting vaccinated shortly after being infected may reduce symptom severity or prevent the development of symptoms.

Are elderly people more susceptible, like they are with COVID-19?

No. Although anyone can potentially be infected with monkeypox (hMPXV), most Americans older than 60 have received the smallpox vaccine, which also protects against hMPXV because the two viruses are related.

Scientists are working to understand how much prior smallpox vaccination protects against hMPXV. For example, OHSU researchers have found the smallpox vaccine provides immunity up to 75 years after a single childhood vaccination against both smallpox and hMPXV.

Is this the COVID-19 pandemic all over again?

No. Monkeypox (hMPXV) is a known virus that is much harder to spread than the virus that causes COVID-19. There is already an approved vaccine to prevent hMPXV. The severity of hMPXV illness can be reduced through vaccination even if it is given 3-4 days after a known exposure, and there are antiviral medications that can be used to treat hMPXV.

Is monkeypox a sexually transmitted disease?

No. While people can get monkeypox (hMPXV) during sex, it is not considered a sexually transmitted disease because it can spread in other ways.

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