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What is mpox?

Mpox (formerly known as monkeypox) is an infection caused by the mpox virus. The mpox virus is part of the same family of viruses as variola virus, the virus that causes smallpox. Mpox symptoms are similar to smallpox symptoms, but milder, and mpox is rarely fatal. Mpox is not related to chickenpox.

The best protection against mpox is the FDA-approved, two-dose vaccine. Click below to find a vaccination site near you!

The mpox virus has an incubation period of 3-17 days. During this time, a person does not have symptoms and may feel fine.

After the incubation period, mpox often causes a rash that may be located on the hands, feet, chest, face, mouth, or near the genitals. Initially, an mpox rash can look like pimples or blisters and may be painful or itchy. The rash will go through several stages, including scabs, before healing.

Other mpox symptoms can include:

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

You may experience all or only a few symptoms. If you have symptoms, such as a rash, visit a healthcare provider. For more information about mpox signs and symptoms, click here.

Mpox symptoms usually start within 3 weeks of exposure to the virus. If someone has flu-like symptoms, they will usually develop a rash 1-4 days later.

A person with mpox can spread it to others from the time symptoms start until the rash has fully healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed. Some people can spread mpox to others from 1 to 4 days before they have symptoms. There is currently no evidence that people who never have symptoms have spread the mpox virus to someone else.

For more information about mpox signs and symptoms, click here.

Close or Intimate Contact

Mpox can spread to anyone, regardless of age, gender, or sexual orientation, through close, personal, often skin-to-skin contact. This includes direct contact with an mpox rash and scabs, saliva or upper respiratory secretions (e.g., snot, mucus, etc.), and areas around the anus, rectum, or vagina. This direct contact can happen during intimate contact, including:

  • Oral, anal, or vaginal sex
  • Touching the genitals (penis, testicles, labia, and vagina) or anus of a person with mpox
  • Kissing, hugging, and massaging
  • Prolonged face-to-face contact

Touching Objects

Although less likely, mpox can be spread by touching objects, fabrics, and surfaces that have been used by someone with mpox and not disinfected. This includes items such as clothing, bedding, towels, fetish gear, sex toys, etc.

For more information about mpox transmission, click here.

These five steps can help you protect yourself from getting mpox:

  1. Get vaccinated!
  2. Learn steps you can take to lower your risk of mpox during sex or at a social gathering.
    • If you are at risk for mpox but haven’t received your two-dose vaccine yet, temporarily changing some parts of your sex life might reduce the risk of exposure to the virus.
    • A rave, party, or club where there is minimal clothing and where there is direct, personal, often skin-to-skin contact has some risk. Avoid any rash you see on others and consider minimizing skin-to-skin contact.

  3. Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash that looks like mpox.
    • This might include skin with what appears to be a rash, pimples, blisters, or scabs.

  4. Avoid contact with objects and materials that a person with mpox has used.
    • Do not share eating utensils or cups with a person with mpox.
    • Do not handle or touch the bedding, towels, or clothing of a person with mpox.
    • If you or someone you live with has mpox, follow steps for cleaning and disinfecting your home.

  5. 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.
According to the CDC, people with HIV, particularly people with low CD4 counts (<350 cells/ml) or who are not virally suppressed, are more likely to be hospitalized and possibly die if they get mpox than people without HIV.
The CDC recommends that anyone with HIV get the FDA-approved JYNNEOS vaccine. The vaccine is given in two (2) doses four weeks apart and is considered safe and effective for people living with HIV. Both doses are required for maximum protection.

For more information about mpox and HIV, click here

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