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.
Monkeypox was discovered in 1958 when two outbreaks of a pox-like disease occurred in colonies of monkeys kept for research. Despite being named “monkeypox,” the source of the disease remains unknown. However, African rodents and non-human primates (like monkeys) might harbor the virus and infect people.
The first human case of monkeypox was recorded in 1970. Prior to the 2022 outbreak, monkeypox had been reported in people in several central and western African countries.
Monkeypox symptoms usually start within 3 weeks of exposure to the virus. People occasionally have flu-like symptoms before a rash develops. If someone has flu-like symptoms, they will usually develop a rash 1-4 days later. People infected with monkeypox get a rash usually located on or near the genitals or anus, and could be on other areas like the hands, feet, chest, face, or mouth.
The rash will go through several stages, beginning with a blister appearance which may be painful or itchy, then including scabs, before healing on its own.
People may experience all or only a few symptoms.
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.
The illness typically lasts 2-4 weeks, and is rarely fatal. Two vaccines are currently authorized or approved in the U.S. for preventing MPX: JYNNEOS (in use internationally) and ACAM2000.
If you are interested in getting vaccinated for MPX, please reach out to our prevention team by calling (619)662-4100 or Message Us and one of our staff members will assist you with making a vaccine appointment.
For updated local information on MPX, click here.