What is monkeypox?
Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by a virus (monkeypox virus) not commonly seen in the United States. Monkeypox can cause a rash which may look like pimples or blisters, sometimes with a flu-like illness.
Prior to May 2022, most human cases occurring outside of Africa were linked to imported animals, international travel to countries where monkeypox is endemic, and/or contact with a person with a confirmed monkeypox virus infection. Recent data, however, suggest that there is now ongoing community transmission in non-endemic countries, including the United States, through direct contact with individuals infected with monkeypox.
How is monkeypox spread?
Monkeypox can spread to anyone through close, personal, often skin-to-skin contact including:
- Direct contact with monkeypox rash, scabs, or body fluids from a person with monkeypox. We believe this is currently the most common way that monkeypox is spreading in the U.S.
- Touching objects, fabrics (clothing, bedding, or towels), and surfaces that have been used by someone with monkeypox.
- Contact with respiratory secretions.
This contact can happen during intimate contact including:
- Oral, anal, and vaginal sex or touching the genitals (penis, testicles, labia, and vagina) or anus (butthole) of a person with monkeypox.
- Hugging, massage, and kissing.
- Prolonged face-to-face contact.
- Touching fabrics and objects during sex that were used by a person with monkeypox and that have not been disinfected, such as bedding, towels, fetish gear, and sex toys.
What are the symptoms of monkeypox?
Monkeypox symptoms usually start within 3 weeks of exposure to the virus. Monkeypox can be spread from the time symptoms start until the rash has healed, all scabs have fallen off, and a fresh layer of skin has formed. This can take several weeks. You may experience all or only a few of the symptoms of monkeypox:
- Muscle aches and backache
- Swollen lymph nodes
- 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.
Most people with monkeypox recover in two to four weeks without needing treatment.
Take the following steps to prevent getting monkeypox:
- Avoid close, skin to skin contact with the monkeypox rash.
- Do not touch the rash or scabs of person with monkeypox.
- Do not kiss, hug, cuddle or have sex with someone with monkeypox.
- 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.
A person who is sick with monkeypox 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. Additional isolation guidance from the CDC
If you have symptoms or have been exposed to monkeypox, contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible to be tested. Healthcare providers can provide testing and care for people who are diagnosed with monkeypox. If you do not have a healthcare provider, contact your local health department for guidance.
Monkeypox testing in the Milwaukee area can be found at:
Vaccination is currently recommended for people with known exposure to someone with monkeypox and people with certain risk factors who are more likely to be exposed to the monkeypox virus.
Vaccine is open to individuals 18 years and older who live or work in Wisconsin and meet at least one of the following criteria:
- Known contacts who are identified by public health officials via case investigation, contact tracing, and risk exposure assessments.
- People with a known sexual partner in the past 14 days who was diagnosed with monkeypox.
- People who attended an event/venue where monkeypox exposure occurred or plan to attend an event/venue where monkeypox exposure is a risk.
- Any men who have sex with men, trans men and women, and gender non-conforming/non-binary individuals who have or expect to have multiple sexual partners.
- Healthcare personnel including clinical laboratory or research personnel who perform testing to diagnose or work directly with orthopoxviruses, and health care providers working in sexual health clinics or other specialty settings directly caring for patients with sexually transmitted infections.
Monkeypox vaccines are available without an appointment:
Menomonee Valley Drive-Thru Clinic
2401 W. St. Paul Ave.
Monday, Wednesday, Fridays: 12 - 6 p.m.
Tuesday & Thursday: 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.