Mpox

Overview

Mpox (formerly known as monkeypox) is a disease caused by the mpox virus. Mpox virus is part of the same family of viruses as smallpox. Mpox symptoms are similar to smallpox symptoms, but milder. Mpox is rarely fatal.

Mpox virus was first found in laboratory monkeys in 1958. The first human case of mpox was recorded in 1970. Prior to the 2022 U.S. outbreak, nearly all mpox cases in people outside of Africa were linked to international travel to countries where the disease commonly occurs, or through imported animals.

  • Mpox can be acquired by all people, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation
  • Mpox causes a rash
  • Mpox can spread from the time symptoms start until the rash has fully healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed. This can take several weeks.
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Symptoms

People with mpox often get a rash that may be located on hands, feet, chest, face, or mouth or near the genitals, including penis, testicles, labia, and vagina, and anus. The incubation period is 3-17 days. During this time, a person does not have symptoms and may feel fine.

  • The rash will go through several stages, including scabs, before healing.
  • The rash can initially look like pimples or blisters and may be painful or itchy.

Other symptoms of mpox can include:

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

Spread

Mpox can spread to anyone through close, personal, often skin-to-skin contact, including:

  • Direct contact with mpox rash and scabs from a person with mpox, as well as contact with their saliva, upper respiratory secretions (snot, mucus), and areas around the anus, rectum, or vagina

This direct contact can happen during intimate contact, including:

  • Oral, anal, or vaginal sex, or touching the genitals (penis, testicles, labia, and vagina) or anus of a person with mpox
  • Hugging, massage, and kissing
  • Prolonged face-to-face contact

The risk is considered low for getting mpox by touching objects, fabrics, and surfaces that have been used by someone with mpox and not disinfected, such as clothing, bedding, towels, fetish gear, or sex toys.

A person who is sick with mpox should isolate at home. If they have an active rash or other symptoms, they should be in a separate room or area from other family members and pets when possible.

People who do not have mpox symptoms cannot spread the virus to others.

Mpox can spread from the time symptoms start until the rash has fully healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed. The illness typically lasts 2–4 weeks.

Prevention

To prevent mpox:

  • Get vaccinated if you have been exposed or are at high risk for infection
  • Avoid close, skin to skin contact with the mpox rash
    • Do not touch the rash or scabs of person with mpox
    • Do not kiss, hug, cuddle or have sex with someone with mpox
    • Do not share eating utensils or cups
  • Do not handle or touch the bedding, towels, or clothing of a sick person
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially after contact with sick people
  • In Central and West Africa, avoid contact with animals that can spread mpox virus, usually rodents and primates. Also, avoid sick or dead animals, as well as bedding or other materials they have touched.

A person who is sick with mpox should isolate at home. If they have an active rash or other symptoms, they should be in a separate room or area from other family members and pets when possible.

Testing

A healthcare worker will take 2–4 swabs of lesions on different areas of the body and send the samples to a laboratory. Please reach out to your healthcare provider to talk about getting tested.

Treatment

Most people with mpox get better on their own within 2-4 weeks without the need for medical treatment.

You can take steps to manage your symptoms with over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-itch creams.

There are no treatments specifically for mpox. However, because the viruses that cause mpox and smallpox are similar, antiviral drugs, such as Tecovirimat (TPOXX), developed to protect against smallpox may be used to treat mpox effectively. TPOXX is currently only for people with severe mpox disease or who are at high risk of severe disease, like people with weakened immune systems or skin conditions, such as HIV that is not virally suppressed and eczema. Please reach out to your healthcare provider to discuss treatment options.

Vaccine

Eligibility

In Virginia, JYNNEOS is recommended and available for individuals who identify with any of the groups listed below. However, some people who are at higher risk of exposure to mpox may be eligible for a vaccine even if they don't fit into one of these categories. Talk to your healthcare provider to decide if you should receive a vaccine.

CDC recommends getting the mpox vaccine if you:

  • Had known or suspected exposure to someone with mpox
  • Had a sex partner in the past 2 weeks who was diagnosed with mpox
  • Are a gay, bisexual, or other man who has sex with men or a transgender, nonbinary, or gender-diverse person who in the past 6 months has had any of the following:
    • A new diagnosis of one or more sexually transmitted diseases (e.g., chlamydia, gonorrhea, or syphilis)
    • More than one sex partner
  • Have had any of the following in the past 6 months:
    • Sex at a commercial sex venue (like a sex club or bathhouse)
    • Sex related to a large commercial event or in a geographic area (city or county for example) where mpox virus transmission is occurring
    • Sex in exchange for money or other items
  • Have a sex partner with any of the above risks
  • Anticipate experiencing any of the above scenarios
  • Have HIV or other causes of immune suppression and have had recent or anticipate future risk of mpox exposure from any of the above scenarios
  • Work in settings where you may be exposed to mpox:
    • Work with orthopoxviruses in a laboratory

Find Your Vaccine

Search CDC's Mpox Vaccine Locator

Arlington County Public Health Division is offering the JYNNEOS vaccine by appointment only. Call 703-228-1200 to schedule an appointment.

LOCATION  HOURS 

Sequoia 1, 2nd floor

2100 Washington Blvd.

Tuesdays, 8:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.-5:30 p.m.

Thursdays, 8:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m.

About the Vaccine

JYNNEOS has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the prevention of mpox. Getting vaccinated shortly after an exposure reduces the risk of developing mpox and can reduce symptoms for those who do get it.

The vaccine is not an effective treatment for those who already have mpox. If you have any symptoms of illness, including symptoms that may indicate you have mpox, please contact a healthcare provider.

The mpox vaccine is free and requires two doses, four weeks apart. A person is not fully protected from mpox until two weeks after the second dose of the vaccine. 

More Information

For more information on mpox, visit:

Healthcare Providers

Visit Arlington County Public Health Division's Mpox for Healthcare Providers.