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What is Mpox?

Mpox, formerly known as "monkeypox," is a rare disease caused by infection with the mpox virus. Mpox virus is part of the same family of viruses as variola virus, the virus that causes smallpox. Mpox symptoms are similar to smallpox symptoms, but milder, and mpox is rarely fatal. Mpox is not related to chickenpox.

Frequently Asked Questions

The virus can spread from person-to-person or through infected animals.

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. People who do not have mpox symptoms cannot spread the virus to others. At this time, it is not known if mpox can spread through semen or vaginal fluids.

Person-to-person transmission occurs through:

  • direct contact with the infectious rash, scabs, or body fluids
  • respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact, or during intimate physical contact, such as kissing, cuddling, or sex
  • touching items (such as clothing or linens) that previously touched the infectious rash or body fluids
  • pregnant people can spread the virus to their fetus through the placenta

Animal transmission occurs by being scratched or bitten by the animal or by preparing or eating meat or using products from an infected animal. 

Symptoms of mpox can include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches and backache
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Chills
  • Exhaustion
  • Respiratory symptoms (e.g. sore throat, nasal congestion, or cough)
  • A rash that can look like pimples or blisters that appears on the face, inside the mouth, and on other parts of the body, like the hands, feet, chest, genitals, or anus. 

The rash goes through different stages before healing completely. The illness typically lasts 2-4 weeks. Sometimes, people get a rash first, followed by other symptoms. Others only experience a rash.

Mpox can be diagnosed with a lab test ordered from a medical provider.

University Health Services has the ability to test students for mpox. If a student is concerned they have mpox or have been exposed, it is recommended they schedule an appointment with a clinician.

Take the following steps to prevent getting mpox:

  • Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash that looks like mpox.
    • Do not touch the rash or scabs of a person with mpox.
    • Do not kiss, hug, cuddle or have sex with someone with mpox.
    • Do not share eating utensils or cups with a person with mpox.
  • Do not handle or touch the bedding, towels, or clothing of a person with mpox.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • CDC recommends vaccination for people who have been exposed to mpox and people who are at higher risk of being exposed to mpox.
    • People who have been identified by public health officials as a contact of someone with mpox
    • People who may have been exposed to mpox, such as:
      • People who are aware that one of their sexual partners in the past 2 weeks has been diagnosed with mpox
      • People who had multiple sexual partners in the past 2 weeks in an area with known mpox
    • People whose jobs may expose them to orthopoxviruses, such as:
      • Laboratory workers who perform testing for orthopoxviruses
      • Laboratory workers who handle cultures or animals with orthopoxviruses
      • Some designated healthcare or public health workers

If you test positive:

  • Follow the CDC’s guidelines regarding what to do if you are sick.
  • Remain isolated if you have a fever or respiratory symptoms, including sore throat, nasal congestion, or cough. Only go out to see a healthcare provider or for an emergency.
  • If you need to leave isolation, you should cover the rash and wear a well-fitting mask.

There are no treatments specifically for mpox virus infections. However, mpox and smallpox viruses are genetically similar, which means that antiviral drugs and vaccines developed to protect against smallpox may be used to prevent and treat mpox virus infections.

Antivirals may be recommended for people who are more likely to get severely ill, like patients with weakened immune systems.

If you have symptoms of mpox, speak with your clinician.

Content adapted from the CDC.