Monkeypox is an illness caused by the monkeypox virus. It can pass among people, causes a flu-like illness and rash, and usually resolves in weeks. It is rarely fatal, and proper precautions can prevent its spread.
Symptoms usually start within one to two weeks of exposure to someone with the virus. A rash appears in almost everyone who contracts a monkeypox infection. Before the rash appears, some people experience flu-like symptoms such as:
A skin rash can develop that can look like a pimple or bumps filled with clear fluid or pus. A potential complication of monkeypox is proctitis. This is an inflammation of the lining of the rectum that can cause belly pain or pain when having a bowel movement.
Not everyone develops these symptoms, but a rash is the most common illness that the virus causes. The rash may appear within one to three days after the appearance of flu-like symptoms.
The rash can look different as the illness progresses. It can include raised, fluid-filled bumps (clear or pus). They become crusty scabs and fall off over the course of two to four weeks. The rash can be painful or itchy and may involve the eyes, mouth, genitals, or anus.
In some people, the rash spreads to many parts of the body, but in other people, it affects only one area of the body.
Symptoms of monkeypox often appear about one to two weeks after exposure to the virus. But the range can go anywhere from five to 21 days. Patients are infectious from initial symptoms until all skin lesions crust and fall off and a fresh layer of intact skin forms. The rash may last two to four weeks.
Monkeypox spreads through direct contact with body fluids, rash, or sores of someone who has monkeypox.
Because the virus spreads through contact, areas of skin that come in contact with an infected person may be the first or only area of the rash.
Monkeypox may spread through direct contact with materials that have touched infected body fluids or sores. This includes clothing, towels, or bedding.
Monkeypox may also spread through respiratory droplets or the large mucous droplets of someone who has monkeypox. But it does not spread easily by air and needs close contact with an infected person.
If you have monkeypox symptoms, talk to your doctor. Testing requires a sample of the skin rash, which can take place in most clinical settings.
You should contact your doctor if you:
If you suspect you have monkeypox, contact your doctor or your local health department. Medication isn't recommended for everyone as the illness should resolve on its own. At UPMC, the monkeypox vaccine or medications such as tecovirimat (Tpoxx®) are reserved to help patients who had exposure to monkeypox, or patients who have severe symptoms and/or are at high risk of severe disease.
The vaccine is in limited supply across the country.
UPMC received a supply of the vaccine. We are offering vaccines to patients who are eligible according to public health criteria. UPMC will continue to follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Pennsylvania Department of Health, and Allegheny County health officials for providing vaccinations.
Following guidelines to help prevent the virus from spreading, the vaccine is going to those who were exposed and are at the greatest risk to spread the illness to others. For more information, check the Allegheny County Health Department website or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.
CDC recommends that you receive the vaccine within four days of exposure to prevent onset of the disease. If given between four and 14 days after exposure, vaccination may reduce the symptoms of disease but may not prevent the disease.
Patients cannot directly schedule a monkeypox vaccine. You should contact your primary health care provider for information.
There is no charge for the vaccine itself. But there is a fee for administering the vaccine and monitoring you through the treatment. If you have a vaccine scheduled, consider contacting your insurance provider and asking about your coverage.
Yes, the vaccine that UPMC received has FDA approval for people aged 18 and older. It is not approved for pregnant people.
Monkeypox infection during pregnancy may cause complications, including severe infection, pregnancy loss, and death of the mother. Individuals should talk to their doctors about the risks and benefits of vaccination related to their risk of exposure to monkeypox infection. The vaccine that UPMC received has FDA approval for people aged 18 and older. It is not approved for pregnant people.
The monkeypox vaccine is a shot given in the arm or between the layers of the skin. It consists of two doses, delivered no sooner than four weeks apart.
Side effects are uncommon but can be like those of other vaccines. They can include injection site pain, redness, itching, swelling, arm soreness, fatigue, headache, and/or chills. If you have trouble breathing, visit your nearest Emergency Department or call 911.
Risks of receiving the monkeypox vaccine include a severe allergic reaction (called anaphylaxis). You may be at an increased risk of an allergic reaction if you:
People who received a smallpox vaccine in the past may have some immunity to monkeypox. How much the smallpox vaccine protects you is not yet known in the current outbreak.
The way COVID-19 spreads is different than monkeypox. COVID-19 is a respiratory virus that is very contagious and can spread even when an individual has no symptoms. COVID-19 can spread through talking, laughing, coughing, and sneezing. Monkeypox requires very close contact to spread and is not a respiratory virus. Monkeypox is not contagious until you have symptoms.
For information, contact your health care provider, or call 866-518-0334.