The monkeypox virus is part of the same family of viruses as smallpox, which was eradicated through global vaccination efforts in 1980. Monkeypox symptoms are similar but less severe than smallpox and monkeypox is rarely fatal. Monkeypox is not related to chickenpox and is much less transmissible than smallpox and respiratory diseases like the virus that causes COVID-19.
Monkeypox infections are common in several forested areas of central and western Africa. However, since May 2022, the virus has been spreading in the U.S. and globally.
Monkeypox can cause a rash which may look like pimples or blisters, sometimes with flu-like symptoms (fever, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, fatigue) preceding the rash. The rash can appear anywhere on the body including the face, inside the mouth, arms, legs, hands, feet, chest, genitals.
The monkeypox virus is most often spread between people through close physical contact with infectious sores, including during sexual relations and through respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact such as kissing. Monkeypox can also be spread by touching material such as bedding, towels, clothing that an infected individual has used and have not been cleaned. Monkeypox is NOT spread through casual conversation or by passing by someone with monkeypox in a store.
There are currently no treatments specifically for monkeypox. However, monkeypox and smallpox viruses are genetically similar, which means that antiviral drugs developed to protect against smallpox, such as tecovirimat (TPOXX), may be used to treat monkeypox. This treatment may be recommended for people who are more likely to get severely ill, like people with weakened immune systems, or people with complications from the infection or symptoms not controlled with supportive care.
Jynneos is a vaccine used to prevent monkeypox infection. Currently, there is a limited supply with doses being allocated to areas of outbreak and reserved for close contacts of positive cases who would be contacted by public health officials during case investigations.
If you are concerned that you might have symptoms of monkeypox or if you have been exposed to a person infected with monkeypox, please contact your healthcare provider. Students should contact Student Health Services by calling 573.341.4284.