Monkeypox (also called hMPXV) is an illness caused by a virus related to, but different from, smallpox.
It is a known virus that has caused small outbreaks in the U.S. over the last few decades. Most individuals recover in 2-4 weeks without treatment. Lasting impacts are rare.
Children, pregnant people and people who are immunocompromised are at greater risk of severe disease from hMPXV. This includes people living with HIV whose disease is not fully treated (virally suppressed).
There are currently hundreds of cases of hMPXV (the human version of the monkeypox virus) in the U.S. and in Oregon.
Early symptoms of monkeypox can include:
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Muscle aches
Early symptoms are followed by a rash or sores (pox). The rash starts as raised bumps that then fill with fluid (clear to cloudy), turn into open sores, then scab over and disappear. This process usually takes 2-4 weeks. The rash can occur anywhere on the body, including face, hands, genital area, and around the anus.
How it Spreads
The hMPXV virus is most often spread by skin-to-skin contact with the rash/sores of an infected person. This can happen during sex or other close contact.
It can also spread through:
- respiratory droplets, during extended face-to-face contact
- contact with bodily fluids
- contact with fluid from the pox
- contaminated bedding or clothing
Anyone can get monkeypox through close contact with someone who is infected. It is not limited to one community or another.
Preventing the Spread
- Avoid sex or other intimate contact if you or your partner have new skin lesions, fever, swollen lymph nodes or otherwise suspect exposure to hMPXV. Condoms do not prevent the spread of the virus (but do prevent spread of other infections).
- Avoid contact with materials such as bedding that have been used by someone infected with hMPXV.
- Wash hands thoroughly if you have contact with someone with hMPXV.
- If you get symptoms, isolate yourself at home until you can connect with a health care provider. Follow these guidelines while you are waiting to get tested or for results.
- Advice for social gatherings like raves, parties, clubs and festivals.
Testing and Treatment
Testing for monkeypox is available. Ask a health care provider about testing if you develop a new rash/bumps/sores, especially if:
- You have traveled in the last month to other areas in the world where cases have been found.
- You know you have been in contact with anyone with the infection.
Most people recover on their own in 2-4 weeks without treatment. At this time, limited vaccines are available for specific high-risk cases/exposures. Antiviral treatments exist if they are needed.
- If you test positive for hMPXV, you will get information on what to do next. That will include:
- Continue to isolate until your rash is completely resolved, usually 2-4 weeks from the first day of symptoms.
- Cover skin lesions as much as you can. For example, wear long sleeves and pants, and bandages over sores on exposed skin. Or gloves over hand sores to reduce contact with others.
- Avoid contact with animals, including pets, if possible.
Do I Need Treatment?
Immune compromised individuals, pregnant people, children and babies are most at risk for severe illness, and may need treatment. Treatment might also be needed for those with severe symptoms or complications related to the infection.
Talk with your healthcare provider if you have questions about whether you need treatment.