Monkeypox is a rare disease that is caused by infection with monkey pox virus. Human-to-human transmission of monkeypox is thought to occur primarily through large respiratory droplets; but, it can also be transmitted by direct contact with body fluids or lesion material and indirect contact with lesion material, such as through contaminated clothing or linens.
Symptoms are similar to but milder than the symptoms of smallpox:
- Muscle aches
One main difference is that monkeypox causes lymph nodes to swell, while smallpox does not. The time from infection to showing symptoms is usually 7-14 days, but may range from 5-21 days total. Please visit the CDC websiteCDC Website
to learn more.
If you think you’ve been infected, please call the appointment line to speak to your primary care provider, or message your healthcare team through MHS GENESIS Patient Portal.
CDC is closely tracking cases of monkey pox that have been recently reported in several countries that don’t normally have monkeypox activity, including the United States. Learn more about the CDC response to monkeypoxCDC Website
What Does Monkeypox Look and Feel Like?
The disease most commonly starts with fever
, then painful lymph nodes and a rash that typically develops one to three days after the fever begins, according to the CDC.
The rash is the most significant feature of monkeypox, spreading into small, fluid-filled blisters. They become round and hard, like pimples, and then scab.
You may also have headache, muscle aches, chills, and exhaustion that begin between seven to 14 days after exposure but can develop between five to 21 days post-exposure.
You are no longer infectious once your scabs have healed, dropped off, and healthy new skin has grown where the lesions were located. That usually takes two to four weeks, according to Robinson.
Children under 8 years old, people who are pregnant or immunocompromised, and individuals with a history of atopic dermatitis or eczema may be at increased risk for severe outcomes from monkeypox.
The CDC states that monkeypox is far less contagious than COVID-19 or the flu because you get it from an infected person when you come in direct contact with the rash on their skin, their lesions, or bodily fluids, or if you touch bedding or clothing that has come in contact with those.
You can also get monkeypox through droplets that disperse during prolonged face-to-face contact, such as kissing or cuddling, and through direct, intimate physical contact such as sex, according to the CDC.
Animals, such as dogs or cats, in an infected person’s household can become infected and transmit it to others. In Africa, infected wild animals are a common way people become infected.
Pain as a Symptom
Sometimes, the only sign of monkeypox is severe pain, Robinson said.
That can be because there may be ulcers inside patients’ mouths, urethra, or rectum where the patient can’t see them but feels severe pain that may require hospitalization.
“For sexually active people, I’d be concerned if they developed pain, even if it’s somewhere I can’t see. I’d want to get that checked out by a health care professional,” Robinson said.
The infection can also cause lymph nodes in the groin area or on the soft tissue of your neck to swell, which should concern the patient and lead to a check-up, he explained.
What To Do for Suspected Monkeypox
If you think you’ve been exposed, notify your chain of command, your primary care provider, and monitor yourself for symptoms for 21 days after your last close contact with an infected individual.
If you have a fever or a growing rash, call the appointment line to speak to your primary care provider, use MHS GENESIS Patient Portal to message your care team, or call the Nurse Advice line at 1-800-874-2273.
Your medical provider will help you determine your risk of becoming ill with monkeypox and may offer preventive treatment if you are at high risk.
If you get a diagnosis of monkeypox, your medical provider or chain of command must place you in isolation and treat you according to CDC guidelines for infection control.
Most patients with monkeypox have mild disease and don’t require medical intervention, CDC said. However, treatments are available and appear effective in reducing pain and duration of symptoms.
The most common treatment for monkeypox includes supportive care, such as hydration and treatment of secondary bacterial infections.
There’s also an approved vaccine called Jynneos for monkeypox and antivirals that doctors may use in certain situations immediately after patient exposure, but these are not widely available in the United States.
We have ordered Jynneos vaccine, but will only provide the vaccine to high risk personnel and anyone who has been exposed to monkeypox.