Monkeypox is a viral infection and is part of the same family of viruses as variola virus, the virus that causes smallpox. Monkeypox symptoms are like smallpox symptoms, but milder, and monkeypox is rarely fatal. Most people with monkeypox recover fully within 2 to 4 weeks without the need for medical treatment. This virus is not related to chickenpox.
Prevent the Spread of Monkeypox
- Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash that looks like monkeypox.
- Avoid contact with objects and materials, like bedding, clothing, or utensils, that a person with monkeypox has used.
- Wash your hands often, especially before eating and after using the bathroom.
Monkeypox symptoms usually start within 3 weeks of exposure to the virus.
- Symptoms can start with fever, headache, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills, or exhaustion.
- After flu-like symptoms, a rash appears that can look like pimples or blisters.
- Monkeypox can spread from when symptoms start and until the rash has healed and fresh skin has formed, which can take several weeks.
There is a vaccine for monkeypox. The Texas Department of State Health Services received about 15,000 doses from the Strategic National Stockpile in July, which it distributed to local health departments. It received and distributed an additional 16,000 vials in mid-August.
Given the limited number of doses available, public health agencies are prioritizing people with a known or possible exposure to the monkeypox virus. Local health entities may also expand vaccination to include “pre-exposure prophylaxis” for people who are at an increased risk of Monkeypox. These individuals are 18 years of age and older who
- are men who have sex with men
- have had multiple or anonymous sex partners within the previous 21 days.
The state public health agency further recommends prioritizing eligible people who
- have a sex partner who is showing symptoms of monkeypox, such as a rash or sores
- have had a diagnosis of HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhea, or early syphilis, within the previous 12 months
- are on HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis, OR
- have a condition that may increase their risk for severe disease if infected with monkeypox virus, such as HIV, atopic dermatitis, or eczema.
There are no treatments specifically for monkeypox. However, monkeypox and smallpox viruses are genetically similar, which means that antiviral drugs and vaccines developed to protect against smallpox may be used to prevent and treat monkeypox virus infections. Antivirals, such as tecovirimat (TPOXX), may be recommended for people who are more likely to get severely ill, like patients with weakened immune systems.
Monkeypox has been declared a public health emergency by the World Health Organization, but it is preventable and rarely fatal. Talk to your health care provider if you have symptoms or have been exposed to someone with the virus.