What Is Monkeypox And How Is It Spread?

August 5, 2022

The World Health Orga­ni­za­tion has declared Mon­key­pox a glob­al pub­lic health emer­gency. Mia Taormi­na, DO, FACOI, chair of Duly’s Infec­tious Dis­ease depart­ment answers the most com­mon ques­tions about this virus. 

What is Monkeypox? 

A rare dis­ease caused by infec­tion with the mon­key­pox virus. It belongs to the same genus that includes var­i­o­la virus (which caus­es small­pox), vac­cinia virus (used in the small­pox vac­cine) and cow­pox virus. 

How is Mon­key­pox transmitted?

Mon­key­pox can spread through close, per­son­al, skin to skin con­tact or from res­pi­ra­to­ry droplets

  • Pri­mar­i­ly spread through direct con­tact with sores, scabs, or body fluids
  • The virus may also spread through con­tact with mate­ri­als that have touched body flu­ids or sore, such as cloth­ing and linens.

Mon­key­pox is NOT con­ta­gious until symp­toms are present. Incu­ba­tion peri­od is from 5 days to 3 weeks, with most expe­ri­enc­ing symp­toms 1 – 2 weeks after exposure.

What are the symp­toms of Monkeypox?

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Body aches (can be severe)
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Malaise
  • Tell­tale rash appears 1 – 2 days later:
    • After appear­ance of fever, the patient devel­ops a rash. Lesions often begin on the lips/​inside mouth then spread to oth­er parts of the body.
    • Lesions are flat-based and may itch ini­tial­ly and can be painful.
  • Lesions progress through the fol­low­ing stages before falling off:
    • Days 1 – 2: Macules
    • Day 3: Papules: firm, raised lesion (lasts 1 – 2 days)
    • Days 4 – 5: Vesi­cles: raised, flu­id filled lesions (lasts 1 – 2 days)
    • Days 6 – 7: Pus­tules: filled with opaque, yel­low­ish fluid
    • Day 7+: Scabs: can take anoth­er week+ for lesions to crust over

What is the length of ill­ness and transmission?

The ill­ness typ­i­cal­ly lasts 2 – 4 weeks. Once all scabs have fall­en off, the indi­vid­ual is no longer con­sid­ered contagious.

    What are the test­ing options for Monkeypox?

    If you think you have been exposed to Mon­key­pox, vis­it a health­care provider for test­ing. Spec­i­mens will be col­lect­ed by your health­care provider and sent to a lab­o­ra­to­ry for testing.

      What are the treat­ment options for Monkeypox?

      There are no treat­ments specif­i­cal­ly for mon­key­pox virus infec­tions. How­ev­er, mon­key­pox and small­pox virus­es are genet­i­cal­ly sim­i­lar, which means that antivi­ral drugs and vac­cines devel­oped to pro­tect against small­pox may be used to pre­vent and treat mon­key­pox virus infections.

        How can I avoid con­tract­ing or trans­mit­ting Monkeypox?

        Patients who have been exposed to a con­firmed case of Mon­key­pox should be mon­i­tored for symp­toms for 21 days after their last exposure.

        • Con­tacts should be instruct­ed to mon­i­tor their tem­per­a­ture twice daily.

        If symp­toms devel­op, patients should self-iso­late and con­tact their health­care provider for assis­tant with sched­ul­ing (telemed­i­cine is preferred).

        Asymp­to­matic patients can con­tin­ue rou­tine dai­ly activ­i­ties (e.g., go to work, school).

        • Con­tacts should not donate blood, cells, tis­sue, breast milk, semen, or organs while they are under symp­tom surveillance.

        The health depart­ment should con­tact you if you have been exposed to a known case. You can also reach out to your local health department.

        Is there a Mon­key­pox vaccine?

        A vac­cine is avail­able but is tight­ly reg­u­lat­ed. Your health­care provider will deter­mine if you are eli­gi­ble for vaccination.

          Mon­key­pox Resources:




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