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What is monkeypox?

Monkeypox is an infection caused by the monkeypox virus. Monkeypox virus is closely related to the virus that causes smallpox.

What are the symptoms of monkeypox?

Monkeypox symptoms usually appear 6 to 13 days after being exposed to the virus, but can also range from 5 to 21 days. Infection usually has two phases:

  1. A prodromal (early) illness that lasts between 1 to 5 days, including:
    • Fever
    • Headache
    • Muscle aches
    • Swollen lymph nodes
    • Backache
    • Chills
    • Exhaustion
    • Sore throat and/or cough
    • Runny nose
  2. A skin rash that begins 1 to 5 days after fever. The rash often begins on the face and then spreads to other places on the body, including the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, and mouth. The rash turns into blisters that then scab over.

How does monkeypox spread?

The monkeypox virus enters the body through breaks in the skin, or through the eyes, nose, and mouth.

The virus is spread by:

  • Touching the sores, scabs, or body fluids of an infected person (including hugging, kissing, and sexual contact)
  • Prolonged face-to-face contact with an infected person, such as an in person conversation
  • Touching objects that are contaminated with the virus, such as clothing or bedding
  • Being bit/scratched by an infected animal, touching wild game meat, or using products made from infected animals

How long is it contagious?

Monkeypox is contagious when symptoms first appear and until all scabs from the sores have fallen off and new skin is present.

How is monkeypox treated?

If you have symptoms of monkeypox, you should talk your health care provider right away to see if treatment is recommended. Most people do not need treatment for monkeypox, and symptoms will go away on their own within 2 to 4 weeks. For rare, severe cases of illness, the treatment used for smallpox may be used to treat monkeypox.

How is monkeypox prevented?

Anyone who has been exposed to a person infected with monkeypox should monitor themselves for symptoms for 21 days. A health care provider may give smallpox vaccine to those who have had a high risk exposure to monkeypox. Anyone with symptoms of monkeypox should isolate right away and contact a health care provider.

To reduce the risk of monkeypox infection:

  • Practice good hand hygiene after contact with infected people or animals. This includes washing your hands with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Use personal protective equipment (PPE) when caring for an infected person, including gloves, gown, eye protection, and respirator.
  • Avoid contact with animals that could carry the virus (including animals that are sick or found dead in areas where there is monkeypox).
  • Avoid direct contact with materials that have been in contact with an infected person or animal, such as bedding.

For more information contact the Health Unit or speak to your health care provider.

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