There is a lot of discussion about monkeypox and the risk of transmission. The first thing to understand is that monkeypox transmission is different than Covid. Transmission happens during close contact – prolonged physical contact or direct contact with body fluids or lesions. It may also spread face to face through respiratory droplets or contact with contaminated bedding or clothing.
It doesn’t spread through the air like COVID-19, as far as we know. And unlike COVID-19, monkeypox isn’t contagious until the infected person becomes symptomatic. That makes it much easier to isolate infected individuals and prevent the spread.
As an organization we are recommending that patients concerned about monkeypox or presenting with a typical rash or “flu-like” symptoms of fever, chills, body aches, etc be roomed as soon as possible and not be left in the waiting room. If a wait is unavoidable, please ask those patients to wait in their car until they can be seen. And as always, if they are coughing, please ask them to wear a mask.
For patients with a rash and symptoms suggestive of monkeypox we recommend PPE including gloves and masks for providers and staff that will have close contact with the patient.
Signs and Symptoms
- Rash may be located on or near the genitals (penis, testicles, labia, and vagina) or anus (butthole) and could be on other areas like the hands, feet, chest, face, or mouth.
- The rash will go through several stages, including scabs, before healing.
- The rash can initially look like pimples or blisters and may be painful or itchy.
Other symptoms of monkeypox can include
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Muscle aches and backache
- Respiratory symptoms (e.g. sore throat, nasal congestion, or cough)
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.
- Touching objects, fabrics (clothing, bedding, or towels), and surfaces that have been used by someone with monkeypox.
- Contact with respiratory secretions.
- Intimate Contact
Monkeypox Prevention Steps
Take the following three steps to prevent getting monkeypox:
Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash that looks like monkeypox.
- Do not touch the rash or scabs of a person with monkeypox.
- Do not kiss, hug, cuddle or have sex with someone with monkeypox.
Avoid contact with objects and materials that a person with monkeypox has used.
- Do not share eating utensils or cups with a person with monkeypox.
- Do not handle or touch the bedding, towels, or clothing of a person with monkeypox.
Wash your hands often.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially before eating or touching your face and after you use the bathroom.