Public Health

Monkeypox

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 the variola virus, the virus that causes smallpox. Symptoms are similar to those of smallpox but milder, and monkeypox is rarely fatal. Monkeypox is not related to chickenpox.

Symptoms

Monkeypox 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. Symptoms include:

  • A rash that can look like pimples or blisters that can be very painful and may appear anywhere in the body
  • Fever
  • Swollen glands
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches and backache
  • Chills
  • Exhaustion

Prevention & Vaccines

Two vaccines are available, and currently approved in El Paso for individuals having close contact with a confirmed case. To avoid and limit exposure please follow these steps:

Avoid close, skin to skin contact with people who have a rash that looks like monkeypox.

Avoid contact with objects & materials that a person with monkeypox has used.

Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Treatment

There are no treatments specifically for Monkeypox virus infections. In some cases antivirals, such as tecovirimat (TPOXX), may be recommended for people who are more likely to get severely ill, like patients with weakened immune systems. However, most people get better without medication and will recover fully with self-isolation of 2-4 weeks.

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.

FAQs

  1. How can I become infected with monkeypox? 
    An individual can become infected with the monkeypox virus by being in very close contact with someone infected, through direct skin contact with the infectious rash, scabs, or body fluids; and that includes intimate physical contact. In addition, the virus can potentially be spread through respiratory secretions, or prolonged face-to-face contact but this is not very common.

  2. What does the monkeypox rash look like?
    The rash may look like blisters, plus-filled bumps, or open sores. Will go through several stages, including scabs, before healing. Lastly, individuals may only have one or two pimple-like rashes on their skin. These bumps may be painful and/or itchy.

  3. What is one Monkeypox sign I should be most concerned about?
    A rash that may be located on or near the genital area or anus, also monkeypox rashes that are on the eyes, inside the mouth.

  4. Do I need to go to the hospital if I am suspected of having monkeypox? It is almost rare to visit the ER for monkeypox. However, don't hesitate to contact your health provider to set up an appointment if you believe you might be infected with monkeypox.

  5. What should I do if I think I have Monkeypox?
    If you notice any of the signs or symptoms of Monkeypox, contact and/or visit your healthcare provider regarding this matter. Healthcare providers are the best qualified professionals who can determine whether you possibly have Monkeypox or not. And based on your exam, they can determine if you need to be tested to detect Monkeypox infection. That way, your doctor can advise you on the testing options.

  6. How can I get tested for monkeypox?
    Testing for Monkeypox is ordered by a healthcare provider based on your signs and symptoms but also on your physical exam. If your healthcare provider determines that you need testing, samples will be taken from the lesions with a special swab and commercial as well as state laboratories will perform the testing for monkeypox.

  7. How long does it take to get your results back?
    Usually results come back within a few days depending on where the test is being performed. It is important to isolate while you wait for your test results and follow other directions given to you by your healthcare provider.

  1. What should I do if I have monkeypox?
    It is recommended to isolate (staying away from other people) for the duration of the illness to prevent infecting others because monkeypox can spread from time symptoms appear until all symptoms resolve (rash is entirely healed). The illness can last anywhere from two to four weeks.

  2. Who is at higher risk of developing a more severe case of Monkeypox?
    Anyone with weakened immune system is considered high risk of developing a more severe Monkeypox disease. People currently receiving chemotherapy, people with HIV/AIDS who are not consistent with their treatment or newly diagnosed and not yet under treatment, those born with a very weak immune system, children under the age of 8 years of age.

  3. Who is eligible to receive the Monkeypox vaccine?
    However, the vaccine is not for the general public, but those individuals considered high risk because they were identified to have been exposed due to close contact to a confirmed case. Once the recommendation change, we will notify the community of any new groups of individuals eligible to receive the vaccine before they are exposed.
  4. Should pregnant women worry about monkeypox?
    If you are pregnant, you should be cautious because your body will not fight infections as when you are not pregnant. Pregnant women should avoid close contact with individuals who could be infected or have been diagnosed with monkeypox.

  5. Should pregnant women worry about monkeypox?
    If you are pregnant, you should be cautious because your body will not fight infections as when you are not pregnant. Pregnant women should avoid close contact with individuals who could be infected or have been diagnosed with monkeypox.

  6. Can my baby be infected with the monkeypox virus if I breastfeed them?
    The monkeypox virus can still be passed by skin-to-skin contact, breastfeeding should be delayed until the lesions have fully healed. According to the CDC, it is unknown if the monkeypox virus is present in breast milk. It is always best to talk to your health care provider.

  7. Can my pet become infected with Monkeypox?
    Yes, it can spread from animals to people. However, the CDC does not believe this route is a high risk for pets. In addition, the CDC is currently monitoring the situation.