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What are the basics?

Mpox is a transferable disease caused by the mpox virus. This virus is similar to the virus that causes smallpox. It was first found in humans in 1970 and U.S. cases were few and far between until 2022. It’s known by a blister-like rash, usually found on hands and feet, but can also be found on the face, chest, inside the mouth and on or near the genitals and butt. The first U.S. case in the recent outbreak was confirmed in May 2022. By November 2022, more than 29,000 people had been infected. Everyone can be careful and take safety measures to prevent further spread of mpox.

What are the symptoms? How does it spread?

Mpox symptoms usually appear within three weeks of exposure to the virus. A rash will start one to four days after flu-like symptoms. Not everyone will have flu-like symptoms.

Symptoms include:

  • Rash or sores
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Lack of energy
  • Muscle aches and backache
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Stuffy nose
  • Swollen lymph nodes

Mpox usually lasts two to four weeks. It can spread from the time you first get symptoms until the rash has completely healed with a new layer of skin.

Mpox can spread to anyone through close, direct contact with people with mpox:

  • by skin-to-skin contact with the rash, sores or scabs of someone with the illness,
  • through saliva during face-to-face contact or during kissing, cuddling or sex and
  • by touching items that were used by someone with mpox.

How is mpox detected and treated?

If you have been exposed to mpox , contact your health care provider so they can test you and provide treatment. For most people, their illness will be mild and won’t need much treatment. Your health care team can also give you treatments to reduce your symptoms. If you do have mpox, isolate to protect others.

Some people are more at risk to get severely sick from mpox. They include:

  • People with a weakened immune system
  • People who are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Children (especially those younger than 8 years old)
  • People with a history of skin diseases like eczema

How can I protect myself from mpox?

There are several ways to prevent infection from mpox:

  • Use a high-quality mask, gloves and medical gown to cover your skin when around others with symptoms.
  • Avoid close contact with people with rashes or sores.
  • Avoid sharing items with someone who has symptoms.
  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol.
  • Talk to your sexual partner(s) about any new sores or rashes on your body and theirs.

There are vaccines available to help protect against mpox. Check with your local health department to find out if you qualify. Get the vaccine before or shortly after an exposure to help prevent infection or reduce symptoms.

Where can I get more information?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization offer credible, science-based information on mpox.

Visit and

Note: The disease formerly known as monkeypox was renamed by the WHO in November 2022 as mpox.

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American Public Health Association