Monkeypox: What You Need to Know

Monkeypox is a rare contagious disease. In May of this year, an outbreak started in the U.S. and some other countries that do not normally report monkeypox. This is the first time monkeypox has spread in so many places at once.

Monkeypox can spread through close, personal, skin-to-skin contact with people who have monkeypox symptoms, such as rash and sores. The risk of monkeypox to the general public is currently low.

If exposed to the virus, symptoms typically appear within three weeks of exposure. People with monkeypox may get:

  • Flu-like symptoms, such as fever and body aches.
  • Painful rashes or sores.

Most people recover from monkeypox within four weeks. 

Protect yourself from monkeypox

  • Talk to your sexual partner(s) about any recent illness.
  • Be aware of new or unexplained sores or rashes on your body or your partner's body.
  • Avoid close contact with people with symptoms like sores or rashes. This includes hugging, kissing, cuddling and sexual activity. 
  • Do not share objects like utensils, cups, clothing, towels or bedding with someone who has symptoms.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Use personal protective equipment (PPE) like a mask, gown and gloves when caring for others with symptoms.
  • Avoid contact with infected animals.

Monkeypox vaccine

Supply of the monkeypox vaccine is limited. San Mateo County Health makes doses available for those at highest risk as they receive them. Those who meet the eligibility criteria for priority groups listed at this website can fill out a “Monkeypox Vaccination Interest Form” on the same webpage.

If you think you have monkeypox: 

  • Call your primary care provider (PCP) They can test you for monkeypox. If you have it, they will tell you if you need treatment, such as antiviral drugs. 
  • You can also call HPSM’s Nurse Advice Line (NAL) Call 1-833-846-8773 any time you need health advice. The NAL is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In a life-threatening emergency, call 911

If you have monkeypox, protect others by:

  • Staying home until you are no longer sick.
  • Avoiding close contact with others.
  • Covering rashes with clean, dry, loose-fitting clothing.
  • Wearing a mask when around others.