Mpox (Monkeypox)

Learn about the signs and symptoms


Following a series of consultations with global experts, WHO will begin using a new preferred term “mpox” as a synonym for monkeypox. Both names will be used simultaneously for one year while “monkeypox” is phased out. See more information here.

What is Mpox?

Mpox is a rare disease that is caused by infection with the mpox virus which is related to the smallpox virus. While generally less severe and much less contagious than smallpox, mpox can be a serious illness. It spreads from infected humans, animals, and materials contaminated with the virus but primarily through close, personal, often skin-to-skin contact with people who have mpox symptoms, such as rash and sores.

Is Mpox a New Disease? 

No, mpox is not a new disease. Mpox was first discovered in 1958 in monkeys, hence the name 'monkeypox.' The first human case of mpox was recorded in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Mpox is endemic (regularly found) in west and central African countries.

Should I be Worried About Mpox?

There is a recent increase in reported cases where mpox is not commonly seen, like Europe and the United States, including Michigan. While it's good to stay alert about any emerging public health outbreaks, the current risk of getting mpox in the general public is very low.

Mpox is a known illness that spreads through very close contact compared to other infectious diseases like COVID-19 that are primarily spread though very small particles in the air. Mpox is also thought to be most contagious when symptoms like a rash are present, making it easier for infected individuals to know when to stay away from others to prevent further spread.

Is Mpox related to COVID-19?

No, mpox is a completely different disease, is not related to COVID-19, and spreads differently. People are generally contagious when they have a rash or other symptom, and mpox spread takes place through prolonged direct, close contact.   This is different from COVID-19, which spreads through the air and can be spread when people do not have symptoms.

Does the Mpox Virus Have Variants?

All viruses change and evolve over time. However, the mpox virus is a DNA virus which mutates slower than coronaviruses, which are RNA viruses.  There are two known families or “clades” of mpox virus. The clade recently identified in Europe and in the United States is the West African clade, which tends to cause less severe disease.

Who Can Get Mpox?

Anyone can get mpox after having close physical contact with someone who has the infection, especially contact with infected lesions (sores), bodily fluids, or other contaminated surfaces. However, the current risk to the public is low.

In 2022, many cases of mpox have been reported in several countries that don't normally report mpox, like the United States, including in Michigan. Though not exclusively, recent cases include gay, bisexual, trans, and other men who have sex with men, and household contacts.

How is Mpox Transmitted?

Mpox spreads primarily through direct contact with infectious sores, scabs, or body fluids, including during sex, as well as activities like kissing, hugging, massaging, and cuddling. Mpox can spread through touching materials used by a person with mpox that haven’t been cleaned, such as clothing and bedding. It can also spread by respiratory secretions (talking, coughing, sneezing, breathing) during prolonged, close, face-to-face contact. Mpox can be spread through:

• Direct skin-skin contact with rash lesions
• 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 mpox)

Mpox is NOT spread through:
• Casual conversations
• Walking by someone with mpox like in a grocery store
• Scientists are still learning if mpox can be spread through:
• Semen or vaginal fluids

Contact with people who have no symptoms (we think people with symptoms are most likely to spread it, but some people may have very mild illness and not know they are infected)

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Mpox?

Mpox might start with symptoms like the flu, with fever, low energy, swollen lymph nodes, and general body aches. Within 1 to 3 days (sometimes longer) after the appearance of fever, the person can develop a rash or sores. The sores will go through several stages, including scabs, before healing. They can look like pimples or blisters and may be painful and itchy.

The rash or sores may be located on or near the genitals (penis, testicles, labia, and vagina) or anus (butt) but could also be on other areas like the hands, feet, chest, and face. They may also be limited to one part of the body.

People with mpox may experience all or only a few of these symptoms. Most people with mpox will get the rash or sores. Some people have reported developing the rash or sores before (or without) the flu-like symptoms.

When is Mpox Contagious?

Mpox 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 (infectious) when they have symptoms and 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 Serious is Mpox?

Mpox is usually a mild disease with symptoms lasting from 2 to 4 weeks. Severe cases can occur, especially in people with weakened immune systems, children under 8 years of age, people with a history of eczema, and people who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Infections with the strain of mpox virus identified in this outbreak—the West African strain—are rarely fatal. Over 99% of people who get this form of the disease are likely to survive. Despite this, symptoms can be extremely painful, and people might have permanent scarring resulting from the rashes and sores.

Is Mpox a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI)?

Mpox can spread from skin-to-skin contact, or because of contact with a contaminated surface or material (like bedding and clothing). This includes close or intimate physical contact, including sexual contact, with infected people, especially when touching rashes or contaminated objects or surfaces. Scientists are investigating whether the virus could be spread by exposure to semen or vaginal fluids, but this has not been previously known to be how the virus spreads.

Mpox may look like sexually transmitted infections that cause rash on the genitals and anus, including herpes and syphilis. It’s always important to talk to a health care provider as soon as you notice unusual rashes or sores.

How is Mpox Prevented?

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

• Always talk to your sexual partner/s about any recent illness and being aware of new or unexplained sores or rashes on your body or your partner's body, including on the genitals and anus
• Avoiding close contact, including sex, with people with symptoms like sores or rashes
• Practicing good hand hygiene
• People who become infected should isolate until their symptoms are improving or have gone away completely. Rash should always be well covered until completely healed.
• Using appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) (like a mask, gown and gloves) when caring for others with symptoms
• Avoiding contact with infected materials contaminated with the virus
• Avoiding contact with infected animals

What Should Someone do if they are Exposed to Mpox or have Symptoms?

Contact a health care provider as soon as possible and let them know you have symptoms or have been exposed to mpox. Health care providers can provide testing and care for people who are diagnosed with mpox.

What Treatments are Available for Mpox?

There are currently no treatments specifically for mpox. However, mpox 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 mpox. This treatment may be recommended for people who are more likely to get severely ill, like patients with weakened immune systems, or people with complications from the infection or symptoms not controlled with supportive care.

If you have mpox symptoms such as a new or unexplained rash, talk to a health care provider, even if you don't think you had contact with someone who has mpox.  Your provider may be able to offer treatments that are not specific to mpox, but may help to reduce your symptoms, like prescribed mouth rinses or topical gels or creams.

Do I Need to get Vaccinated against Mpox?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) recommend that people aged 18 or older who have been exposed to mpox be given the vaccine to prevent them from developing the disease – this is called post-exposure prophylaxis or PEP. PEP can also be given to people who do not have a known exposure but have been present in settings where mpox cases have occurred.

Vaccination to prevent mpox infection, also called pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP, is recommended for people who are at risk for occupational exposure, like laboratory workers who perform mpox testing, and clinicians and public health workers who collect mpox specimens.

MDHHS is making the JYNNEOS vaccine available to protect against mpox. However, there is currently an extremely limited supply from the Strategic National Stockpile. More doses should be arriving in Michigan in the coming weeks.

JYNNEOS vaccine is administered in two injections in the upper arm at least four weeks apart. Most people who get the JYNNEOS vaccine have only minor reactions, like pain, redness, swelling and itching at the injection site, and less commonly, muscle pain, headache, fatigue (tiredness), nausea, chills and mild fever, and swollen glands.

When Should I get Vaccinated for Mpox if I Have Been Exposed?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) recommend that people aged 18 or older who have been exposed to mpox be given the vaccine to prevent them from developing the disease – this is called post-exposure prophylaxis or PEP. PEP can also be given to people who do not have a known exposure but have been present in settings where mpox cases have occurred.

PEP with the JYNNEOS vaccine should be given within 4 days from the date of exposure to help prevent onset of the disease. If given between 4–14 days after the date of exposure, vaccination may reduce the symptoms of disease, but may not prevent the disease.

For more information on the vaccine, visit the CDC JYNNEOS Vaccine Statement and the CDC's Consideration on Mpox Vaccine site.

How Should Healthcare Facilities Prioritize Mpox Vaccines for their Healthcare Workforce?

Current evidence shows that the risk for transmission of mpox to healthcare workers (HCW) is low.  While supplies of vaccine continue to be limited, MDHHS recommends priority for vaccination to persons at risk in the community (with non-healthcare related exposures). In healthcare facilities, current infection control recommendations (including use of PPE) should be followed. PPE to prevent exposure is readily available and expected to be extremely effective.

Could My Pet Get Mpox?

Infected animals can spread mpox to people, and people who are infected can spread mpox to animals through close contact, including petting, cuddling, hugging, kissing, licking, sharing sleeping areas, and sharing food.

People with mpox should avoid contact with animals, including pets, domestic animals, and wildlife to prevent spreading the virus. Someone with mpox should ask another household member or outside friend/family member to care for pets until the person with mpox is fully recovered.

What is BEDHD Doing About Mpox?

BEDHD is closely monitoring mpox transmission in the U.S. and Michigan to ensure rapid identification of cases. MDHHS is working with local health officials and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to ensure appropriate care and response, including outreach and communications, laboratory testing, contact tracing, obtaining vaccine to support local vaccination efforts for people who may have been exposed and treatment only available from the Strategic National Stockpile.

Additionally, BEDHD is promoting awareness amongst health care providers and the public about appropriate testing and infection control when patients with suspected mpox disease are cared for in healthcare settings. Because mpox is rare and the possibility of transmission during intimate or sexual contact may not be well known, BEDHD is working to help health care providers and the public become familiar with the symptoms and appearance of mpox.

[Page last updated: 2/1/2024]

Mpox Vaccine Eligibility

[11/7/22] Updated Vaccine Eligibility for Michigan - MDHHS updated Michigan's vaccine eligibility. Now anyone who has been exposed to someone with MPV and/or anyone who thinks they may be at risk can receive the vaccine.

Please call the clinic to schedule your vaccination:
Barry County (Hastings): (269) 945-9516
Eaton County (Charlotte): (517) 541-2630

If you are within 4 days of a known exposure and have questions or are unable to book an appointment, please call (517) 541-2641.

Mpox Vaccine Locator

Use this tool to find an alternate location for a Mpox Vaccine if you are unable to find an appointment that works for you with BEDHD.