What Everyone Should Know About Monkeypox

How to Prevent the Spread, and What to Do If You Get It

December 05, 2022  

There are many misconceptions about monkeypox. But understanding it is an important part of helping to prevent the spread. We can keep ourselves and our loved ones safer when we know the symptoms and what to do if we are exposed. 

What is Monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a virus. It infects the skin and gets into the blood stream, causing flu-like symptoms.

In the summer of 2022, documented cases of monkeypox first appeared in regions where it had never appeared in the past, such as the United States. Because of this, the U.S. government has made monkeypox a public health emergency (PHE). A PHE, which was also declared during the COVID-19 pandemic, allows the government to take quick action to address the health concern. In the case of the monkeypox PHE, there are now efforts to share vaccines and helpful information with the public.

Monkeypox can spread to anyone through close, intimate, often skin-to-skin contact with an infected person. It can spread to anyone, regardless of race, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity.

What are the Symptoms?

Early signs of monkeypox are:

  • A blistering rash filled with whitish pus
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Swollen lymph nodes

Infection typically lasts 2 to 4 weeks.

What Should I Do If I Was Exposed to Monkeypox?

If you have been in contact with someone who you believe has monkeypox or if you show any symptoms, please avoid contact with others. You should also call your health care provider right away for advice.

How Does it Spread?

Once someone develops symptoms, they could spread the monkeypox illness to someone else. It can spread through direct contact with body fluid or monkeypox sores, items that have come into contact with body fluid or monkeypox sores, or droplets from the nose or mouth.

Here are some specific ways that a person can get monkeypox from a person who is infected with the monkeypox virus:

  • Close, personal, skin-to-skin contact with the rash
  • Sexual, intimate contact
  • Sharing bedding, towels, or clothing
  • Face-to-face contact with respiratory secretions (air droplets)

How Do I Avoid Monkeypox?

Making some changes to behavior can help lower the risk of getting monkeypox. Here are some examples:

  • Avoid parties, raves or other tightly crowded spaces where you may have close contact with others
  • Talk openly and honestly with sexual partners about any possible symptoms of monkeypox
  • Learn more about basic infection control from the CDC

Talk to a health care provider right away about any new rash.

How Do I Get a Vaccine?

Vaccinations are available to those who are infected or who have a sexual partner who was diagnosed with monkeypox within the last 2 weeks.

As a Tufts Health Plan member, you are covered to get the monkeypox vaccine at no cost. If you do have to pay out of pocket for the vaccine, we will reimburse you. To learn more about this covered benefit, please call member services at the number on your Tufts Health Plan member ID card.

Learn about vaccine eligibility and about where to get a vaccine from your local health department. If you believe you may be eligible for the vaccine, contact your health care provider or a local vaccination site.

If you live in Massachusetts, learn more about getting vaccinated here.

If you live in Rhode Island, learn more about getting vaccinated here.

Stay Up-To-Date on Monkeypox

Visit the CDC for the latest on prevention and treatment.