What to know about Mokeypox: Be Aware Not Alarmed

What is Monkeypox

Monkeypox is a rare disease that is caused by infection with the monkeypox virus which is related to the smallpox virus. More than 99% of people who get monkeypox are likely to survive. The disease is considered mild, but the sores/legions can be painful for those infected.

Why did California declare a state of emergency?

There are many reasons for officials to declare a state of emergency that are not cause for concern. According to a statement by the Governor, by declaring a state of emergency, the state has the power to better coordinate a response, seek additional vaccines, and lead outreach and education efforts on accessing vaccines and treatment.


Monkeypox is spread through close, personal contact with an infected person, but monkeypox is not a sexually transmitted infection, or STI.

Monkeypox can be spread through:

  • Direct skin-skin contact with rash and sores, including through hugging, massaging and cuddling
  • Sexual/intimate contact, including kissing
  • Living in a house and sharing a bed with someone
  • Sharing towels or unwashed clothing
  • Respiratory secretions through prolonged face-to-face interactions (the type that mainly happen when living with someone or caring for someone who has monkeypox)

Monkeypox is NOT spread through:

  • Casual conversations
  • Walking by someone with monkeypox, even indoors

What are the signs and symptoms of monkeypox? 

Monkeypox might start similar symptoms to the flu or COVID-19, including:

  • Fever
  • Low energy
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • General body aches.

Typically, within 1-3 days of developing a fever, you can develop a rash or sores that look like pimples or blisters. The rash will go through several stages, including scabbing, before it heals. Often, the rash is painful and itchy. The rash or sores can sometimes develop before or without the flu-like symptoms.

Characteristics of a Monkeypox Rash

Monkeypox can be mistaken for chickenpox, shingles, Hand Foot Mouth disease, or herpes, but there are some defining characteristics of the monkeypox rash.

The legions caused by monkeypox tend to:

  • Start as flat, red bumps, which turn into blisters filled with pus that crust over and fall off
  • Look like a blister, pus-filled bump, or open sore
  • Appear in sensitive areas such as your mouth, vagina, or anus
  • Develop at the same time in clusters, whereas chickenpox rashes often appear in waves all over the body
  • Take two to four weeks to resolve
  • Be accompanied by swollen lymph nodes, which isn’t common with chickenpox or other skin infections.

When is monkeypox contagious? 

Monkeypox symptoms usually start within 2 weeks (but can be up to 3 weeks) after exposure to the virus. Usually, people are only thought to be contagious until all sores, including scabs, have healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed. This can take several weeks. Researchers are still trying to understand if the virus can spread from someone who has no symptoms.

How can I protect myself? 

There are number of ways to prevent the spread of monkeypox, including:

  • Avoid close contact, including hugging, kissing, cuddling, and sexual activity with people with symptoms like sores or rashes
  • Do not share materials (e.g., utensils, cups, clothing, towels, bedding) with someone who has symptoms
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Use appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) (like a mask, gown and gloves) when caring for others with symptoms

What should someone do if they are exposed to monkeypox? 

Call OLE Health and let them know you’ve been exposed and make an appointment for testing.

At this time, OLE Health does not have the vaccine for monkeypox.

What should I do if I have symptoms of monkeypox?

People who have monkeypox symptoms should ideally isolate away from others until their symptoms have gone away completely and until all sores, including scabs, have healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed for at least 48 hours.  If needing to be around others, people with monkeypox should cover up sores and wear a mask. 

Standard laundry detergents work for cleaning clothes, bedding, and towels used by someone with monkeypox.

What treatments are available for monkeypox?

There are currently no treatments specifically for monkeypox. However, certain antiviral drugs developed for smallpox may be recommended for people who are more likely to get severely ill or for people with complications from the infection or severe symptoms that cannot be controlled. People who may be at risk for more severe illness include those with a weakened immune system, children (particularly those less than 8 years of age), those who are pregnant or breastfeeding, and those with a history of certain skin diseases like eczema.

If you have symptoms of monkeypox and are experiencing pain or irritation due to the rash or sores, contact your primary care provider who may recommend treatments to reduce your symptoms.

Do I need to get vaccinated against monkeypox?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) recommend that people who have been exposed to monkeypox or whose jobs put them at risk for potential exposure be given the vaccine to prevent them from developing the disease. Vaccines are not recommended for people who have monkeypox.

Vaccine supply is limited, and OLE Health does not currently have access to the vaccine.

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