UPDATED AUGUST 1, 2022
Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. It is usually found in Central and West Africa and does not occur naturally in the United States. However, multiple cases of monkeypox have recently been reported in several countries that don’t normally report monkeypox, including the United States.
Monkeypox is spread when a person comes into contact with an animal or human with the virus or through contact with materials (like clothing or linens) used by the infected person or prolonged exposure to respiratory droplets. The virus typically enters the body through broken skin, respiratory droplets or the mucous membranes (eyes, nose or mouth). Because of this, transmission may also occur during sex through skin-to-skin and other intimate contact.
Early signs may include fever, malaise (a general feeling of discomfort), headache, swollen lymph nodes and sometimes cough or sore throat. Other symptoms include muscle aches, backache, chills, and exhaustion, followed by a rash that typically begins on the face and spreads to other parts of the body. Infections can last two to four weeks. And some just develop a rash with or without swollen lymph nodes, which can occur on the genitals.
What people should do:
Steps to help prevent monkeypox include:
- Avoid contact with materials, like bedding and clothing, that has been in contact with a sick animal or person infected with this virus.
- Avoid contact with people who are or may be sick with the virus.
- Avoid contact with animals that could have the virus (such as animals that are sick or that have been found dead).
- Wash hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer after contact with infected animals or humans.
There is no specific treatment approved for this virus, but medication can be given to ease the symptoms. However, there is a vaccine that can be used, under certain circumstances, to prevent monkeypox in people based on their level of exposure to this virus.
For any questions about monkeypox, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health recommends that you speak to your primary care provider. If you do not have a regular provider, call 2-1-1 for assistance. In addition, people without a regular provider that have developed a rash in the genital or perianal area, can access services at Public Health’s sexual health clinics.
Los Angeles County Department of Public Health: