Updated August 4, 2022
Monkeypox (hMPXV) is a disease caused by a virus not commonly seen in the United States, but regularly seen in other parts of the world. It is a known virus characterized by a rash and often includes flu-like symptoms. It usually is spread through close physical contact.
There are currently several thousand cases of hMPXV in the U.S., including some in Oregon.
Who can get monkeypox?
Monkeypox is not limited to one community or another.
A majority, but not all, of the cases currently in the U.S. have been among men who have sex with men. There is nothing specific about men who have sex with men that puts someone at higher risk for getting monkeypox. This happens to be the first socially-connected group that has been affected with this particular outbreak. What gay, queer, and transgender folks should know about monkeypox
Who is most at risk of serious illness?
Most people with monkeypox recover in 2-4 weeks. It can be uncomfortable or painful. The disease can be more serious for people who are
- Immunocompromised (including people who are taking immune-compromising medications, are undergoing cancer treatment, have had organ transplants, or are living with HIV or other immune-compromising conditions).
How it spreads
The hMPXV virus doesn’t spread easily. It is most often spread by skin-to-skin contact with the rash/sores of an infected person. This can happen during sex or other prolonged close contact.
It can also spread through:
- Respiratory droplets, during extended face-to-face contact (more than 3 hours)
- Contact with bodily fluids
- Contact with contaminated bedding, clothing, or other items
Monkeypox most often spreads from person to person through close, often skin-to-skin contact, including direct contact with a rash, sores, or scabs from a person infected with the virus. To prevent the spread of the virus:
Avoid skin-to-skin contact such as through sex or other intimate contact if you or your partner have new rash or sores, fever, swollen lymph nodes or otherwise suspect you may have been exposed to the virus. Condoms do not prevent the spread of the virus (but do prevent spread of other infections).
Wear gloves when handling materials such as bedding that have been used by someone with the virus.
Wash hands thoroughly if you have contact with someone with hMPXV.
If you get symptoms, stay home until you can connect with a health care provider.
JYNNEOS is an FDA-approved vaccine against monkeypox (hMPXV) for those 18 years and older. Because supply is limited, vaccines are currently being offered to those with a known exposure to monkeypox and those who are most likely to be exposed. Public Health is working with community groups and healthcare providers to reach out to those who might be most at risk.
JYNNEOSis given in 2 doses. In Oregon we are focusing on getting people their first dose. A single dose gives good protection against the disease, and focusing on first doses will also allow us to vaccinate more community members quickly.
- People who are moderate or severely immunocompromised will be scheduled for their second dose in about 4 weeks.
- People who are not immunocompromised will be contacted to get the second dose when more vaccine is available.
Rash or sores
Everyone with monkeypox gets a rash or sores (pox). The rash can look similar to other things like acne, bug bites, or some sexually transmitted diseases. The rash may be hard to see. It can be painful or itchy and occur anywhere on the body including
- Genital area
The rash starts as raised bumps that then fill with fluid (clear to cloudy), turn into open sores, then scab over and disappear. This process usually takes 2-4 weeks.
Some people also get flu-like symptoms before the rash appears, such as
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Muscle aches
If you have symptoms or think you have been exposed
Contact your doctor or clinic if you develop a new, unexplained, rash or sores on any part of your body. Cover your rash with clothing or bandages if possible.
- Avoid sex or other close, intimate contact until you have been checked out.
- Avoid gatherings, especially if they involve close, personal, skin-to-skin contact.
Testing and treatment
Ask a health care provider about testing if you develop a new rash, bumps, or sores, especially if:
- You know you have been in close contact with anyone with a known or likely hMPV infection.
- You have had close skin-to-skin contact with someone in a social network known to be experiencing the spread of hMPXV, such as men who have sex with men who meet partners through websites, apps or social events such as at clubs or parties.
- You have traveled in the last month to other areas in the world where cases have been found.
Most people recover on their own in 2-4 weeks without treatment. Your healthcare provider can help you manage your symptoms, and may recommend antiviral treatments depending on your health and the severity of symptoms.
If you have symptoms that concern you, contact a medical provider to get a diagnosis. If you do not have a provider call the Multnomah County STD Clinic at 503-988-3700.