The U.S. declared the current monkeypox outbreak a public health emergency.

At AHN, we are closely monitoring the spread of this disease in our area and will keep you updated as information changes. For now, take a look at the FAQs below and learn how to protect yourself and loved ones from monkeypox.

What is monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus, which is in the same family of viruses as smallpox. It usually goes away on its own and is very rarely life-threatening.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has the most up-to-date information here.

What are monkeypox symptoms?

Some people get a rash first, followed by other symptoms, while others only experience a rash. Folks are typically sick for two to four weeks.

The full list of potential monkeypox symptoms includes:

  • A rash that can look like pimples or blisters on the face, inside the mouth, and on other parts of the body. The rash goes through different stages before healing completely.
  • Fever.
  • Headache.
  • Muscle aches and backaches.
  • Swollen lymph nodes.
  • Chills.
  • Exhaustion.

How does someone get monkeypox?

Monkeypox is spread through direct contact with body fluids and wounds, or indirect contact with bedding, towels, and clothing that have touched body fluids or wounds. Less commonly, it can be spread through respiratory droplets — such as from a sneeze or cough.

How is monkeypox diagnosed?

The most common way to diagnose monkeypox is through a tissue sample that is taken from the rash. The sample is then sent to a lab for PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing.

How is monkeypox treated?

Right now, there is no specific treatment for monkeypox; however, an antiviral medication called tecovirimat, or TPOXX, more commonly used to treat smallpox, can be helpful for patients at risk for severe monkeypox disease. Those at high risk include people with HIV, immunosuppressive conditions, and some severe skin conditions.

Is there a monkeypox vaccine?

Yes, the smallpox vaccine is also 85% effective in preventing monkeypox if given before or right after exposure. If given between 4-14 days after exposure, it may not prevent the infection entirely, but it can lessen its severity.

Unfortunately, vaccine supplies are very limited right now. AHN is only offering vaccines to people with known or suspected exposure to monkeypox within the previous 14 days. As vaccine supply increases, we’ll expand eligibility to other high-risk groups. Please call your doctor’s office for more information.  

You can read more about the availability of the monkeypox vaccine from the health departments in our area:

How can I protect myself from monkeypox?

The CDC has outlined the following steps that you can take to decrease your chances of contracting monkeypox:

  • Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash that looks like monkeypox.
  • Do not handle or touch the bedding, towels, or clothing of a person with monkeypox.
  • Wash your hands often, with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially before eating or touching your face.

What do I do if I think I have monkeypox?

If you know or suspect you were exposed to someone with monkeypox, call your doctor’s office to see if you qualify for the vaccine.

If you have symptoms such as fever, fatigue, and swollen lymph nodes and think you may have been exposed to monkeypox, isolate yourself and call your doctor’s office.

If you have a blister-like rash and suspect you were exposed to monkeypox, isolate yourself from others in your household, cover any blisters, and contact your doctor’s office to schedule testing.

Contact us

Call your AHN primary care provider if you’re experiencing symptoms, think you’ve been exposed, or have questions about monkeypox.

If you’re an established patient of the AHN Positive Health Clinic and think you’ve been exposed to monkeypox or have symptoms, call the office for further instructions.