What You Need to Know About Monkeypox

Monkeypox is a viral disease that enters the body through broken skin, the respiratory tract or the mucous membranes (e.g., eyes, nose, or mouth).

Symptoms of monkeypox

Monkeypox is usually a mild illness and most people recover on their own after a few weeks.

However, in some situations people may become very sick and death may occur.

People usually develop symptoms 5 to 21 days after being exposed to the monkeypox virus.

Symptoms occur in 2 stages and typically last from 2 to 4 weeks.

In stage 1, symptoms may include:

  • fever
  • chills
  • swollen lymph nodes
  • headache
  • muscle pain
  • joint pain
  • back pain
  • exhaustion

In stage 2 of the illness, a rash develops – usually within 1 to 3 days (sometimes longer) after the fever starts. The rash often starts on the face or extremities however it can affect other parts of the body, such as the hands, feet, mouth and genitals.

The rash usually lasts between 14 and 28 days and changes through different stages before finally forming a scab which later falls off.

You can be contagious from onset of first symptoms until scabs have fallen off on their own and the skin is healed.

If you become ill

Call a health care provider immediately if:

  • you develop symptoms of monkeypox
  • you have had contact with a known or suspect monkeypox case

If you have been diagnosed with monkeypox, you should isolate until all scabs have fallen off and have healed. Until your lesions resolve, you are still able to infect those around you.

Diagnosing monkeypox

Monkeypox is diagnosed based on a combination of factors, such as:

  • signs and symptoms
  • laboratory testing
  • risk factors such as:
    • exposure to a case
    • travel history

To be diagnosed with monkeypox, get assessed and tested by a health care provider. Symptoms can be similar to other infectious diseases, such as chickenpox.

Managing monkeypox

The illness is often mild and self-limiting, with symptoms usually resolving within a few weeks. Although rare, severe cases and death can occur. If you are feeling very unwell, you should contact a health care provider without delay.

Treatment for monkeypox disease is mainly supportive. There are no well-established treatments for monkeypox, and there are very limited data available on the clinical effectiveness of specific treatments for monkeypox infection in humans.

Vaccines are currently being distributed in some settings based on risk of exposure. Contact your local public health unit to learn more, particularly if you have been in contact with someone who has monkeypox.

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