What is monkeypox?
Monkeypox is a rare but sometimes serious illness caused by a virus. It belongs to the same family as the smallpox virus.
This illness is uncommon in the United States. Global travel has increased the risk of bringing diseases from other countries.
As of July 12, 2022, California has reported 186 cases. Most experts say cases are under-counted.
Monkeypox can infect anyone. So far, recent U.S. cases have spread mostly in men who have sex with other men.
For most people, monkeypox goes away on its own without treatment. Symptoms often last from 2 to 4 weeks.
There is no treatment approved specifically for monkeypox. Some medicines used for smallpox may help prevent or treat monkeypox. Some people with severe symptoms may benefit from treatment.
If you have symptoms of monkeypox, talk to your health care team (e.g, primary care doctor). Getting medical help early is important for people with weakened immune systems.
How to avoid getting monkeypox
You can take steps to protect yourself from this illness. Here’s how:
- Avoid close skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash that looks like monkeypox.
- Do not kiss, hug, cuddle, or have sex with someone with this illness.
- Do not share plates, silverware, or cups with a person with this illness.
- Do not handle the bedding, towels, or clothing of a person with monkeypox.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water or use a hand sanitizer.
If you are close to someone who has monkeypox
If you have a high risk for infection, you may be eligible for a monkeypox vaccine. Check with your health care team or clinic.
You may have a high risk if you:
- Have contact with someone who had a rash or sore that looks like monkeypox
- Have contact with someone diagnosed with monkeypox
- Have skin contact with friends who have had monkeypox
- Travel outside the United States to an area where monkeypox is more common
- Have contact with an animal that lived where monkeypox has been more common
If you get sick with monkeypox:
- Stay home.
- Stay in a separate room or area from other family members and pets.
Call your health care team if:
- You have symptoms that may be monkeypox.
- You might have had close contact with someone who has known or suspected monkeypox.
For more information from public health teams in your area: