Monkey Pox FAQs

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MPX (Monkeypox) Frequently Asked Questions

Last updated: 7/26/22

What is Monkeypox (MPX)?

Monkeypox is a disease that is caused by the monkeypox virus.  It typically involves flu-like symptoms and a rash that includes bumps that are initially filled with fluid and then scab over. MPX can be confused with infections like syphilis, herpes, or chickenpox.

What are the symptoms of MPX?

Symptoms typically appear 1-2 weeks after infection.  This can range from 5-21 days. Early symptoms may include fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills, and fatigue.

The MPX rash can look like pimples or blisters that appear on the face, inside the mouth, and on other parts of the body like hands, feet, chest, genitals, or anus.

Sometimes people get a rash first or only develop a rash and no other symptoms.  Some individuals in the current US outbreak have experienced rashes only in the genital region or other body parts.

How is MPX spread?

MPX is spread in different ways:

  • MPX virus is most often spread through direct contact with a rash or sores of someone who has MPX
  • It can also spread through contact with clothing, bedding, or other items used by a person with MPX
  • It can also spread through respiratory droplets passed through prolonged face-to-face contact including kissing, cuddling, or sex

MPX is not limited to any sexual orientation or group of people. Anyone who has been in close contact with someone who has MPX is at risk.

Can I get MPX from having sex?

Even though it is not considered a sexually transmitted infection, MPX can spread during intimate physical contact. This can happen when you have sex including:

  • Oral, anal, and vaginal sex, or touching the genitals or anus of a person with MPX
  • Hugging, massaging, kissing, or talking closely
  • Touching fabrics, objects like bedding, towels, and sex toys that were used by a person with MPX

How can individuals prevent getting MPX?

  • Avoid close skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash that looks like MPX
    • Do not touch the rash or scabs of a person with MPX
    • Do not kiss, hug, cuddle or have sex with someone with MPX while they remain infectious
    • Do not share eating utensils or cups with a person with MPX while they remain infectious
    • Do not share skin care products, such as make-up or moisturizer
  • Do not touch bedding, towels, clothing, fetish gear, or sex toys of a person with MPX
  • Avoid prolonged face-to-face contact with someone with MPX
  • Wear a mask when in crowded locations, such as in indoor public venues or crowded outdoor events
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based sanitizer
  • CDC recommends vaccination for people who have been exposed to MPX and people who are at higher risk of being exposed to MPX. If given after exposure to MPX, the vaccine is most effective if given within 4 days after being exposed, but can be given up to 14 days after exposure

How can a person lower the chance of getting MPX at raves, parties, and clubs?

  • Consider how much close, personal, skin-to-skin contact is likely to occur at the event
  • If you feel sick or have a rash, do not attend the gathering and see a healthcare provider
  • Events, where attendees are fully clothed and unlikely to share skin-to-skin contact, are safer. However, activities like kissing might spread monkeypox.
  • Events where there is minimal clothing and direct, personal, skin-to-skin contact have some risks; consider minimizing skin-to-skin contact.
  • Enclosed spaces, like back rooms, saunas, sex clubs, or private and public sex parties where intimate sexual contact with multiple partners occurs may have a higher likelihood of spreading MPX

How can I lower my risk during sex?

  • Talk to your partner about any recent illness and be aware of new or unexplained rash on your body or your partner’s body, including the genitals and anus
  • If you or your partner have recently been sick, currently feel sick, or have a new or unexplained rash, do not have sex and see a healthcare provider
  • Consider the following ways to reduce the spreading of MPX
    • Have virtual sex with no in-person contact
    • Masturbate together at a distance of at least 6 feet, without touching each other
    • Consider having sex with your clothes on or covering areas where the rash is present. If there is a rash near the genitals or anus, condoms may help but are likely not enough to prevent MPX
    • Wash your hands, fetish gear, sex toys, and any fabrics (bedding, towels, clothing) after having sex
    • Avoid touching the rash. Touching the rash can spread it to other parts of the body and may delay healing

What should I do if I have symptoms?

Contact your healthcare provider if you are concerned you may have MPX.

How long does MPX last?

The illness usually lasts 2-4 weeks. Individuals are infectious until they no longer have a rash. The health department will work with individuals to determine when they are no longer infectious.

Can MPX be treated?

There are no FDA-approved medications for treating MPX specifically. Some medications that are used to treat other viruses may be used to treat MPX.

Questions about the vaccine for MPX

What vaccine is available for MPX?

  • The JYNNEOS vaccine is recommended for people age 18 or older who are at high risk for monkeypox infection.

How many doses do I need?

  • JYNNEOS vaccine is currently recommended as a two-dose vaccine. You should receive the second dose at least 4 weeks after the first dose.  You should be given a follow-up appointment at the clinic where you received your first vaccine.

What are the side effects of the vaccine?

  • Side effects are usually mild. Most people have redness, swelling, and pain where they got the shot. Tiredness, headache, and muscle pain can also occur after vaccination.

What should I do if I have a serious health problem after vaccination?

  • Signs of a severe allergic reaction include hives, swelling of the face and throat, difficulty breathing, fast heartbeat, dizziness, and weakness. If you think you are having a severe allergic reaction, call 911 or go to the nearest hospital.
  • Your provider is required to report serious adverse reactions to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), but you can also report to VAERS at vaers.hhs.gov or by calling 800-822-7967. VAERS staff members do not give medical advice.

Am I still at risk for Monkeypox, even if I’ve been vaccinated?

  • The vaccine takes maximum effect 2 weeks after the second dose of vaccine
  • We do not have real-world data on how well JYNNEOS protects people from monkeypox and do not know how well the vaccine will prevent monkeypox in the current outbreak. As such, it is important to continue other prevention measures such as avoiding sex and other close physical contacts with people who have symptoms of monkeypox

If you think you might have monkeypox talk to your doctor or call the Baltimore City Health Department Sexual Health and Wellness Clinic during business hours at 1200 East Fayette Street: 410-396-9410 or 1515 West North Avenue: 410-396-0176

More information about Monkeypox and Monkeypox Vaccine, including educational material: