Mpox is still circulating in the United States. CDC recommends vaccination with JYNNEOS for persons at high risk for infection to prevent mpox. People need to get both doses of the vaccine, JYNNEOS, for the best protection against mpox. The second dose should be given 4 weeks after the first dose.
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Frequently Asked Questions
- How is mpox spread?
Transmission of mpox requires close contact with a symptomatic person. Brief interactions that do not involve physical contact and health care interactions conducted using appropriate protective equipment are not high risk.
The mpox virus can be transmitted from person to person by:
- Direct contact with the skin or body fluids of an infected person (including sexual contact).
- Contact with virus-contaminated objects (such as bedding or clothing).
- Respiratory droplets during direct and prolonged face-to-face contact.
People with a confirmed case of mpox are contagious as soon as they develop symptoms and continue to be contagious until the scabs fall off the rash. A person with mpox should isolate from others until the scabs fall off.
Humans can also get mpox from contact with infected animals.
- What are the symptoms?
Mpox can cause a range of symptoms including, fever, headache, swollen lymph nodes, followed by a rash that can appear anywhere on the body. Some people may not have any symptoms before the start of the rash. Infected people may have lesions on the genitals or in the anal area. Some people have initially had pain in the anal region, with or without other symptoms such as fever and headache.
Usually the rash will turn into raised bumps, which then fill with fluid. The rash eventually scabs over, and the scabs fall off. Typically, the rash is mostly on the face, arms, legs, and hands. However, if a person was infected during sexual contact, the rash might only be on the genitals or anal region.
The incubation period (time from exposure to the start of symptoms) for mpox is usually 7-14 days but can range from 5-21 days.
Most people recover in 2-4 weeks although the lesions can leave scars. The disease can be serious, especially for immunocompromised people, children, and pregnant people.
People with symptoms of mpox should contact their primary health care provider or clinic. Before the visit, they should tell the provider or clinic that they are concerned about mpox and tell them whether they recently had close contact with a person who had a similar rash or who was diagnosed with mpox. If you don't have one, find a provider here.
- Who is at risk?
Anyone can get mpox, but some people are at a higher risk. Mpox is primarily spread through close (skin to skin) contact. It also can be spread through respiratory droplets during prolonged face-to-face contact but does not spread through the air over longer distances. Brief interactions that do not involve physical contact and health care interactions conducted using appropriate protective equipment are generally considered low risk.
Anyone who is sexually active is at risk, and risk increases with more sexual partners.
Other risk factors may include travel to areas where mpox is spreading; close, non-sexual contact with someone who is infected; or contact with sick animals. To protect yourself and others from mpox or sexual infectious diseases, DOH recommends:
- Practicing safe sex and harm reduction methods such as reducing your number of sexual partners.
- Avoiding sexual contact with anyone who has open wounds, sores, or rashes.
- Avoiding other skin-to-skin contact with anyone who has open wounds, sores, or rashes, or anyone who is infected with mpox.
- What should you do if you have been exposed to mpox?
If you have had close contact with a person who has confirmed or probable mpox, getting vaccinated right away may prevent an infection. Close contact can include being together for several hours, hugging, cuddling, kissing, or sharing a bed or clothing.
- What should people do if they think they have mpox or test positive for mpox?
If you have a new or unexplained rash and think you may have had close, skin-to-skin contact with someone who could have mpox in the last 21 days, talk to your medical provider or local clinic to find out if you should be tested, get vaccinated, or receive antiviral medication. If you don't have one, find a provider here.
You can spread mpox from the start of symptoms until the rash has fully healed, which can take two to four weeks. To keep from spreading the infection:
- Separate yourself from other people and animals (mammals).
- Restrict family, friends, or other visitors to those with an essential need to be in the home.
- Wear a well-fitting medical mask when in close contact with others at home.
- Do not let others touch your skin, especially any areas with a rash. Consider wearing disposable gloves if you have lesions on your hands and live with others.
- Stay home except for getting health care. If you have a medical appointment, call the office before you go in to see if they have any special procedures for you to follow.
- Keep lesions covered and remain separate until the rash is gone, all scabs have fallen off, and the skin below is healed.
- Do not share bedding, towels, dishes, or utensils.
- 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.
- Wash your own laundry and dishes.
- Routinely clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces and items.
- Have somebody else take care of animals (mammals) like pets and livestock.
- Avoid use of contact lenses to prevent unintentional infection of the eye.
- Avoid shaving rash-covered areas of your body.
- Do not use commercial travel (airplane, bus, train/light rail, taxi, rideshare services).
- Do not kiss, hug, cuddle, sleep, or have sex with others.
If you are infected with mpox and are in severe pain, or you are more likely to become severely ill, you may need antiviral treatment. Have your health care provider call your local health department for information.
If you already have symptoms of mpox, mpox vaccine is not recommended. Ask your provider about anti-viral treatment.
- What causes mpox? How did it get to humans?
Mpox was discovered in 1958 when two outbreaks of a pox-like disease occurred in colonies of monkeys kept for research. The first human case was recorded in 1970.
Despite previously being named “monkeypox,” the source of the disease remains unknown. However, African rodents and non-human primates (like monkeys) might harbor the virus and infect people.
We are seeing more cases of mpox now for several reasons:
- The main reason is that we no longer vaccinate against smallpox. Smallpox vaccination also protected people against mpox.
- Some cases of mpox in the past probably were misdiagnosed as smallpox, so we see more cases now partly due to more accurate testing.
- Globally, modern-day cases of mpox are often linked to international travel or exposure to imported animals, practices that are more common now than in the past.
- Can animals, especially pets, get mpox?
Mammals can get mpox. Here’s how to prevent spreading the virus to animals.
- Is mpox deadly?
Infections of mpox in the United States are fortunately rarely fatal.
- People with weakened immune systems, children under 8 years of age, people with a history of eczema, and people who are pregnant or breast/chest feeding may be more likely to get seriously ill or die.
- While mpox is rarely fatal, symptoms can be extremely painful, and people might have permanent scarring resulting from the rash.
- If you have mpox, do you need to stay home or go to hospital?
If you suspect you have mpox, isolate yourself from others in a single-person room if available and immediately talk to your health care provider. Ask if you need to go to a medical office or the hospital. It is important to call as soon as you think you have symptoms of the disease because antiviral treatments may be available for those at high risk of severe illness. If you have been exposed and do not have symptoms yet, you may be able to be vaccinated. If you don't have one, find a provider here.
- What groups are more at risk for severe infections?
People with weakened immune systems, children under 8 years of age, people with a history of eczema, and people who are pregnant or breastfeeding may be more likely to get seriously ill or die.
If you have had smallpox vaccination in the past, you may be at lower risk for mpox. However, it may not be lifelong. During previous mpox outbreaks, several people who were infected with mpox had previously been vaccinated against smallpox decades prior.
- What are some examples of the mpox rash?
Mpox lesions (bumps) are often rubbery, with a dot on top of the lesion. If you have a new or unexplained rash and think you may have had close, skin-to-skin contact with someone who could have mpox in the last 21 days talk to your medical provider to find out if you should be tested. If you don't have one, find a provider here.
- How do I get tested?
If you have symptoms of mpox, or have been in close contact with someone diagnosed with mpox in the last 21 days, contact a health care provider to see if you should be tested.
In addition, commercial labs are now able to test for mpox. If you don't have a provider, find a provider here.
- Can physicians and other medical providers order a mpox test in Washington?
Yes. Here’s how testing currently works in our state:
- People who have symptoms of mpox (including a rash on one or more parts of the body) should visit a health care provider. If the provider suspects mpox, they will swab the rash for testing. Providers may test for other conditions at the same time and may need to take other kinds of samples. If you don't have a provider, find one here.
- These swabs (specimens) are sent to a laboratory for testing. Specimens might go to the Washington State PHL or to other clinical labs in the area.
- If a specimen tests positive, the state or local health jurisdiction will contact the patient. Public health will recommend what actions to take, including if the person needs to isolate, or if antiviral medication is needed. They also will ask questions to see if any people the patient has been in close contact with need vaccination, testing, or treatment.
- What is the treatment for people with mpox?
Most people recover without treatment. Antiviral medications are available to treat mpox in specific circumstances. If symptoms have not started, post-exposure vaccination may be an option. Post-exposure vaccination can reduce symptoms or prevent symptoms.
- Who should be treated?
Anybody with severe pain, widespread infection, at higher risk of getting severe illness, or infection of the eyes should ask their health care provider about being treated. If you don't have one, find a provider here.
- People who are at risk for severe infection, include:
- People with weakened immune systems.
- Children under 8 years of age.
- People with a history of eczema.
- People who are pregnant or breast/chest feeding.
Treatment can start before testing if mpox is highly suspected and there is severe infection or risk for severe infection. The local health jurisdiction may help to locate antiviral medications.
- What about the vaccine?
To help stop the spread of mpox virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is distributing a vaccine called JYNNEOS in the US. For up to date mpox vaccine data, visit the mpox data page.
If you believe you have had recent close contact with someone who was diagnosed with mpox and need to be vaccinated, please reach out to your health care provider. If you don't have one, find a provider here.
On August 9th 2022, the FDA granted emergency use authorization for JYNNEOS vaccine to be given to children under 18 years. JYNNEOS is already authorized in those ages 18 and older.
- What does the vaccine do?
For people who have had recent contact with someone who tested positive for mpox, the vaccine can reduce the chance of developing a mpox infection. Find more information on the CDC's Considerations for Mpox Vaccination web page.
Two currently licensed vaccines, JYNNEOS (also known as Imvamune or Imvanex) and ACAM2000, are available in the United States to prevent smallpox (which is a type of orthopox virus).
- Both help protect people from the mpox virus, which is also an orthopox virus. JYNNEOS is also licensed specifically to prevent mpox.
- These vaccines are available from the US Strategic National Stockpile (SNS).
- Both JYNNEOS and ACAM2000 can be used before and after exposure to mpox in an outbreak setting.
- There is an ample supply of ACAM2000. However, this vaccine has more side effects and should not be used in people who have some health conditions, including a weakened immune system, skin conditions like atopic dermatitis/eczema, or pregnancy.
- If you receive an mpox vaccination, you should still practice other prevention measures afterward, such as not having skin-to-skin contact with someone who is infected with mpox. You are not considered fully vaccinated until two weeks after your second dose of JYNNEOS, and the vaccine may not be 100% effective. No data are available yet on the effectiveness of these vaccines in the current outbreak.
- Who is considered a close contact?
A close contact is a person who:
- Had contact with someone who had a rash that looks like mpox or someone who was diagnosed with confirmed or probable mpox. This could include close contact with the clothing, bedding, towels, etc. used by the person who has mpox.
- Had skin-to-skin contact with someone in a social network experiencing mpox activity.
- Had contact with a dead or live wild animal or exotic pet that exists only in Africa or used a product derived from such animals (e.g., game meat, creams, lotions, powders, etc.)
- Where can I get a vaccination?
- People identified as close contacts of known cases can get vaccinated by their medical providers or local health jurisdiction. If you don't have one, find a provider here.
- Some vaccine locations are listed on the CDC's Mpox Vaccination Basics web page, though this is not a complete list.
- Health care providers are working with their local health jurisdictions to secure the vaccine.
- The JYNNEOS vaccine is a two-dose series with the first dose given as soon as possible after exposure, and the second dose given 28 days later. You should receive your second dose from the same place as your first dose. You are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after the second dose. Even when fully vaccinated, you should continue other safety and prevention practices such as not having skin-to-skin contact with someone who has a rash or has a confirmed or probable case of mpox.
- Should health care professionals get vaccinated?
Health care professionals who do not perform diagnostic testing for mpox are not currently recommended to receive vaccination.
- Does the COVID-19 vaccine work against mpox?
No. Vaccines work differently depending on the virus they are targeting. The COVID-19 vaccine was developed to help prevent serious illness and death from COVID-19. It does not prevent any other disease, like flu or mpox. Only the licensed mpox and smallpox vaccinations work against mpox infection.
- Can people travel out of country without the mpox vaccination?
There are no travel restrictions or requirement for the mpox vaccine to travel. However, many countries require other vaccines before you travel, so check with your local health department or your health care provider before traveling internationally to make sure you have all the vaccines you need. If you don't have one, find a provider here.