2022 U.S. Monkeypox Outbreak: What You Need to Know

  • The U.S. declares monkeypox a national public health emergency as cases continue to rise. The outbreak is the first sustained human transmission outside of its place of origin in west and central Africa. See current U.S. cases
  • Anyone can get monkeypox. Virus transmission is through close, intimate contact, including sex, with someone who has monkeypox. Follow safety practices to lower your risk.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends vaccination for people who have been exposed to monkeypox as well as those at higher risk of being exposed to monkeypox.
  • The majority of cases are managed at home with supportive care. Hospitalization for monkeypox is rare, and there have been no reported deaths.
  • If you have symptoms of monkeypox, contact your healthcare provider to potentially test and, in the meantime take measures to avoid spreading it to others.  
  • Other important references:

Quick links

What is monkeypox?

Monkeypox is the disease caused by the monkeypox virus (MPV). MPV is from the same family of viruses as smallpox. It may cause symptoms similar to smallpox, but those symptoms are typically less severe. Most individuals with monkeypox in the current outbreak have been treated at home with supportive care. Hospitalization and death from monkeypox is rare.

What are monkeypox symptoms?

Typically monkeypox presents as a rash that resembles pimples or blisters, often accompanied by flu-like symptoms. The rash may appear on the face, inside the mouth, and on other parts of the body, like the hands, feet, chest, genitals, or anus.  The rash goes through different stages of development before healing completely.  Symptoms associated with the rash may include fever, muscle pains, swollen lymph nodes, headache or chills. Some may get a rash first, followed by other symptoms. Some may have rash as their only symptom.

Who can get monkeypox and how does it spread?

While anyone can get infected with monkeypox, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, the current outbreak appears to be spreading through social networks of men who have sex with men (MSM). Monkepox is spread through close contact with body fluids, sores, shared bedding or clothing which is contaminated with infected material, or respiratory droplets (kissing, coughing and sneezing).  People can spread or transmit monkeypox beginning from the time symptoms start until the rash has fully healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed. This typically takes about 2-4 weeks.

How can I fight the spread of monkeypox?

  • Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash that looks like monkeypox.
    • Do not touch the rash or scabs of a person with monkeypox.
    • Do not kiss, hug, cuddle or have sex with someone with monkeypox.
  • Avoid contact with objects and materials that a person with monkeypox has used.
    • Do not share eating utensils or cups with a person with monkeypox.
    • Do not handle or touch the bedding, towels, or clothing of a person with monkeypox.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially before eating or touching your face and after you use the bathroom. Learn more about how you can lower your risk of getting monkepox during sex or at a social gathering here.

What to do if you suspect you may have monkeypox?

If you have symptoms that you feel are consistent with monkeypox, contact your healthcare provider immediately. Until you have been evaluated by a healthcare provider, you should avoid close contact with others and try to separate yourself from others in your home. If you’re unable to separate from others, wear a face mask and try your best to cover the rash with clothing and don’t share clothing or linens. Wash your hands and clean surfaces regularly

Can I test for monkeypox?

Based on your symptoms and risk for exposure, your healthcare provider may order a test to confirm monkeypox. This entails taking a small sample of fluid from the rash or sore with a swab and sending this to a lab that can detect monkeypox virus. You should continue to practice the measures noted above until you know the results of the test and have received further instructions from your healthcare provider. If you test positive for MPV, you may be contacted by a representative from the department of public health.

Where can I get a monkeypox vaccination?

Currently, monkeypox vaccine supplies nationwide are limited. Only individuals with direct exposures or at high risk for exposure are eligible and only certain area health centers have the vaccine. Local  access points may include TPAN and the City of Chicago. If you reside in Lake or suburban Cook County, your doctor may contact city and county departments of health on your behalf. NorthShore continues to work with our local departments of health to have this vaccine available and will update this page when it is more widely accessible.

How do you treat monkeypox?

At this time, the CDC recommends that certain groups of individuals who are exposed to or at high risk of exposure receive a vaccine. Vaccinations can help to prevent illness, control outbreaks and prevent transmission. That said, it’s likely that there are more people who are eligible for vaccines than there are vaccines, although supplies are increasing. If you feel you might be eligible for a vaccine, talk to your healthcare provider or contact the department of health where you live.

Currently, federal agencies are allocating a vaccine called Jynneos for individuals with known contacts who are identified by public health via case investigation, contact tracing, and risk exposure assessments. Individuals who may qualify for vaccinations if they have had a sexual partner within the pasts 14 days diagnosed with monkeypox and/or multiple sexual partners in the past 14 days in a jurisdiction with known monkeypox.

Other resources

https://www.chicagohan.org/monkeypox
https://www.cdc.gov/poxvirus/monkeypox/index.html

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