Human monkeypox (hMPXV) is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. hMPXV virus is part of the same family of viruses as variola virus, the virus that causes smallpox. hMPXV symptoms are similar to smallpox symptoms but milder and rarely fatal. hMPXV is not smallpox and is not related to chickenpox.
Currently, there are outbreaks of hMPXV in several countries that do not normally report hMPXV, including the United States. Oregon is one of the states in the U.S. that is experiencing an outbreak of hMPXV. Jackson County has no known cases at this time.
How does hMPXV Spread?
hMPXV is spread through:
- Direct contact with an infectious rash, scabs, or body fluids
- Respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact, or during intimate physical contact, such as kissing, cuddling, or sex
- Touching objects, fabrics (such as clothing or linens) that previously touched the rash or body fluids of someone with monkeypox
- The placenta during pregnancy
- Being scratched or bitten by an infected animal
The virus spreads primarily through close, prolonged, skin-to-skin contact. Though the risk of infection is not high, anyone who has close, prolonged, skin-to-skin contact with someone ill with monkeypox could possibly catch it.
Preventing the spread of hMPXV
Vaccination is an important tool in preventing the spread of hMPXV. But given the current limited supply of vaccines, changing some behaviors that may increase your risk of exposure is critical. These changes will help slow the spread of hMPXV until vaccine supply is adequate.
Vaccines are one of the most effective tools to prevent infections and reduce severe complications from diseases. However, there is still a risk that people could get sick even if they are partially or fully vaccinated. Reducing or avoiding behaviors that increase the risk of hMPXV exposure to reduce the likelihood of getting sick is important, even if you have been vaccinated, to prevent hMPXV.
For information on vaccination and eligibility, visit the Oregon Health Authority's interim vaccine guidance or call the Jackson County Public Health Immunization Clinic at 541-774-8209 or email HHShelp@jacksoncounty.org.
Take the following steps to prevent getting hMPXV:
- Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash that looks like hMPXV.
- Do not touch the rash or scabs of a person with hMPXV
- Do not kiss, hug, cuddle or have sex with someone with hMPXV
- Limit the number of sexual partners
- Learn more about how you can lower your risk of getting monkeypox during sex or at a social gathering.
- Avoid contact with objects and materials that a person with hMPXV has used.
- Do not share eating utensils or cups with a person with hMPXV
- Do not share drug preparation equipment with a person with hMPXV
- Do not handle or touch the bedding, towels, or clothing of a person with hMPXV
- 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.
Treatment for hMPXV
There are no treatments specifically for monkeypox virus infections. However, monkeypox and smallpox viruses are genetically similar, which means that antiviral drugs and vaccines developed to protect against smallpox may be used to prevent and treat monkeypox virus infections.
Antivirals, such as tecovirimat (TPOXX), may be recommended for people who are more likely to get severely ill, like patients with weakened immune systems or people experiencing severe disease from hMPXV.
If you have symptoms of hMPXV, you should talk to your healthcare provider, even if you don’t think you had contact with someone who has hMPXV. Call your provider before arriving to your healthcare provider’s office and notify them of your concerns for hMPXV. Wear a mask when seeing your healthcare provider for your medical visit.
Signs & Symptoms of hMPXV
Symptoms -usually start within 7-14 days, with a range of 5-21 days after exposure. Illness typically starts with flu-like symptoms, such as fever, headache, and muscle aches. This is followed in one to three days by a rash, often on the face, spreading to the limbs. The rash starts with flat patches that then form large, firm bumps, which then fill with fluid or pus. These then scab and fall off, usually over two to four weeks.
Some people develop flu-like symptoms after the rash starts or never develop flu-like symptoms at all. The rash may only consist of a couple of lesions rather than being widespread.
For more information, visit:
Oregon Health Authority: Orthopoxviruses (human monkeypox virus) (hMPXV)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: 2022 U.S. Monkeypox Outbreak