Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. Monkeypox virus is part of the same family of viruses as variola virus, the virus that causes smallpox. Monkeypox symptoms are similar to smallpox symptoms, but milder, and monkeypox is rarely fatal. Monkeypox is not related to chickenpox.
Anyone can get the monkeypox virus (MPV). MPV is contagious when a rash is present and up until
all scabs have fallen off and a fresh layer of skin has formed. Persons experiencing MPV symptoms, such as a new or unexplained rash, should avoid close contacts with others and contact a health care provider for evaluation. MPV can be spread by close, personal, often skin-to-skin contact, but can also spread by contact with respiratory secretions, or touching objects, fabrics, or surfaces that have been used by someone with MPV.
MPV is not a sexually transmitted infection, but it can be spread through sex when people are in close skin-to-skin contact with each other. Hand hygiene can help prevent MPV. Wash hands often with soap and water, especially before eating or touching your face and after using the bathroom. If soap and water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
People who have been exposed to MPV may be eligible for vaccination to help prevent the illness. Contact a health care provider or the local health department for more information.