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Updated August 18, 2022

For the latest, up-to-date monkeypox information, please see the CDC website.

What is monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. Monkeypox virus is part of the same family of viruses as variola virus, the virus that causes smallpox. Monkeypox symptoms are similar to smallpox symptoms, but milder, and monkeypox is rarely fatal. Monkeypox is not related to chickenpox.

What are the symptoms of monkeypox?

People with monkeypox get a rash that may be located on or near the genitals or anus and could be on other areas like the hands, feet, chest, face, or mouth.

  • The rash will go through several stages, including scabs, before healing.
  • The rash can initially look like pimples or blisters and may be painful or itchy.

Other symptoms may include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Exhaustion
  • Muscle aches and backache
  • Headache
  • Respiratory symptoms (e.g. sore throat, nasal congestion, or cough)
How does monkeypox spread?

Monkeypox can spread through close, personal, often skin-to-skin contact, including:

  • Direct contact with monkeypox rash, scabs, or body fluids from a person with monkeypox.
  • Touching objects, fabrics (clothing, bedding, or towels), and surfaces that have been used by someone with monkeypox.
  • Contact with respiratory secretions.
How can I prevent being infected with monkeypox?
  1. Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash that looks like monkeypox.
    • Do not touch the rash or scabs of a person with monkeypox.
    • Do not kiss, hug, cuddle or have sex with someone with monkeypox.
  2. Avoid contact with objects and materials that a person with monkeypox has used.
    • Do not share eating utensils or cups with a person with monkeypox.
    • Do not handle or touch the bedding, towels, or clothing of a person with monkeypox.
  3. Wash your hands often.
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially before eating or touching your face and after you use the bathroom.
Is there a monkeypox vaccine available?

Yes. The CDC recommends vaccination for people who have been exposed to monkeypox and people who may be more likely to get monkeypox.

People more likely to get monkeypox include:

  • People who have been identified by public health officials as a contact of someone with monkeypox
  • People who are aware that one of their sexual partners in the past 2 weeks has been diagnosed with monkeypox
  • People who had multiple sexual partners in the past 2 weeks in an area with known monkeypox
  • People whose jobs may expose them to orthopoxviruses, such as:
    • Laboratory workers who perform testing for orthopoxviruses
    • Laboratory workers who handle cultures or animals with orthopoxviruses
    • Some designated healthcare or public health workers
Where can I get vaccinated, if I meet the above criteria?

We are not vaccinating against monkeypox at John Muir Health. Vaccines are being offered by Contra Costa County:

Contra Costa County monkeypox vaccine scheduling

What do I do if I think I have monkeypox?

If you are a John Muir Health patient, please schedule an appointment with your primary care provider or one of our Urgent Care Centers. Be sure to tell them about any rashes you have and/or that you think you may have been exposed to monkeypox. We are testing patients with symptoms or suspected exposures in our provider offices and Urgent Care Centers. There is not currently a home test for monkeypox.

What do I need to know if I have an appointment scheduled at John Muir Health for suspected monkeypox?

Before coming into our facilities, please wash or sanitize your hands. When you arrive, make sure your rash is covered and wear a face mask to prevent possible exposures. If you have MyChart activated, you may eCheck-in prior to your appointment to reduce time spent in our reception area. When you arrive, we’ll take you to an exam room as quickly as possible.

Is there a treatment for monkeypox?

There are no treatments specifically for monkeypox virus infections. However, treatments for other viruses may be used, particularly for people with weakened immune systems.

If you have symptoms of monkeypox, you should talk to your healthcare provider, even if you don’t think you had contact with someone who has monkeypox.

Most people with monkeypox recover fully within 2 to 4 weeks without the need for medical treatment.

Is John Muir Health disinfecting surfaces against monkeypox?

Yes, we disinfect all surfaces in waiting areas and clinical exam rooms with products shown to kill monkeypox.