Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by the monkeypox virus. It’s from the same virus family as the eradicated smallpox virus. Monkeypox can make you sick including a rash or sores (pox), often with an earlier flu-like illness.
People with monkeypox may first develop a flu-like illness with fever, headache, muscle aches, exhaustion, and enlarged lymph nodes. A characteristic rash, which can appear like blisters or pimples, occurs a few days later. However, in recent cases, patients have developed localized rashes around the genitals or anus without having flu-like symptoms first.
Early flu-like symptoms of monkeypox can include:
- Muscle aches and backache
- Swollen lymph nodes
The rash sometimes is located on or near the genitals or anus, but may be in other areas like the hands, feet, chest, neck or face.
The sores can look like pimples or blisters and may be painful or itchy.
The sores typically go through several stages, including scabs, before healing.
Sores may be inside the body, including the mouth, vagina, or anus.
Monkeypox can be spread from the time symptoms start until all sores have healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed.
The illness may last for up to 2–4 weeks and usually resolves without specific treatment.
More information on symptoms of monkeypox is available on the CDC’s website.
How It Spreads
Monkeypox can spread between people when someone has contact with someone who is infected with monkeypox or touches materials that are contaminated with the virus.
Monkeypox can spread to anyone through:
- Direct contact with monkeypox rash or scabs on a person’s skin.
- Contact with objects, fabrics (clothing, bedding, or towels), and surfaces that have been used by someone with monkeypox.
- Contact with respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact.
Monkeypox can be spread during intimate contact, including:
- Oral, anal, and vaginal sex, or touching the genitals or anus of a person with monkeypox
- Hugging, massage, kissing or talking closely
- Touching fabrics, shared surfaces, and objects that were used by a person with monkeypox, such as bedding, towels, fetish gear and sex toys
More information on how monkeypox spreads is available on the CDC’s website.
If You Feel Sick
If you have a new or unexplained rash or other symptoms, see your healthcare provider for medical attention and evaluation.
- If you do not have a provider or health insurance, you can visit a public health clinic. If you need assistance getting connected with care, please call the health department at 304.757.2541.
- If you seek medical evaluation for possible monkeypox, cover all parts of the rash with clothing, gloves or bandages, wear a well-fitting mask, and remind the healthcare provider that this virus is circulating.
- Avoid close contact, including sexual or intimate contact, with anyone until you have been evaluated by a healthcare provider.
- See CDC’s Social Gatherings, Safer Sex, and Monkeypox webpage for additional information on how to reduce your risk of monkeypox.
If you have received a monkeypox diagnosis, avoid having close contact with others until your symptoms have gone away and the rash has healed completely.
- Avoid sex or being intimate with anyone until all your sores have healed and you have a fresh layer of skin formed.
- Isolate until your rash has fully healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed. People with monkeypox can spread the illness to others from the beginning of symptoms until the rash has formed a fresh layer of skin.
- Under some circumstances, if you have monkeypox, you may have to leave isolation before you have fully healed. If so, you should cover the rash and wear a well-fitting mask to protect others from getting monkeypox.
- It is very important to isolate if you have a fever or respiratory symptoms, including sore throat, nasal congestion, or cough. When experiencing these symptoms, you should leave isolation only to see a healthcare provider or for an emergency.
- If you have an active rash or other symptoms, stay in a separate room or area away from people or pets you live with, when possible.
- Avoid contact with animals including pets, domestic animals, and wildlife. For more information, see CDC’s Pets in the Home
- Cover rashes on the body with clothing, gloves, or bandages.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. Use hand sanitizer if soap and water aren’t available.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces and materials that you have touched while you had symptoms, including bedding, towels, clothing, sex toys, and surfaces such as door handles or countertops.
- Standard household cleaning/disinfectants may be used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
There is no treatment specifically for monkeypox. However, because the monkeypox and smallpox viruses are closely related, drugs and vaccines developed to protect against smallpox may be used to prevent and treat monkeypox virus infections.
Treatment will depend on how sick someone gets or whether they’re likely to get severely ill, such as if they have a weakened immune system. Most people with monkeypox recover fully within 2 to 4 weeks without the need for treatment.
At this time, West Virginia has a limited number of vaccines reserved for people who have had extensively close contact with someone who has monkeypox. Putnam County Health Department is not currently administering the monkeypox vaccine.