2022 U.S. Monkeypox Outbreak

CDC is closely tracking cases of monkeypox recently detected in the United States.  CDC urges healthcare providers in the U.S. to be alert for patients who have rash illnesses consistent with monkeypox.

2022 U.S. Outbreak

What is Monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a disease caused by infection with monkeypox virus. An outbreak is occurring around the world in areas where monkeypox is not usually found. Previously, monkeypox was found mainly in Central and West Africa, often in forested areas.

People infected with monkeypox develop a rash that can look like pimples or blisters and the rash may be painful or itchy.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of monkeypox can include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches and backache
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Chills
  • Exhaustion
  • Respiratory symptoms (e.g. sore throat, nasal congestion, or cough)
  • A rash that can look like pimples or blisters and may be painful or itch that may be located on or near the genitals (penis, testicles, labia, and vagina) or anus (butthole) but could also be on other areas like the hands, feet, chest, face, or mouth. The rash will go through several stages, including scabs, before healing. The illness typically lasts 2–4 weeks.

How does 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 from someone with monkeypox.
  • Direct contact can happen during intimate contact, including:
    • Oral, anal, and vaginal sex or touching the genitals (penis, testicles, labia, and vagina) or anus (butthole) of a person with monkeypox.
    • Hugging, massage, and kissing.
    • Prolonged face-to-face contact.
    • Touching fabrics and objects during sex that were used by a person with monkeypox and that have not been disinfected, such as bedding, towels, fetish gear, and sex toys.

It’s also possible for people to get monkeypox from infected animals if they are scratched or bitten by the animal or by preparing or eating meat or using products from an infected animal.

Who is at risk?

Anyone in close contact with a person with monkeypox can get it and should take steps to protect themselves. 

Travelers who plan to attend gatherings that may place them in close, skin-to-skin contact with someone who has monkeypox may be at higher risk of getting infected.

People who care for someone who has monkeypox without wearing gloves and a well-fitting mask are also more likely to get infected. Travelers such as veterinarians and wildlife professionals may be at risk if they work with infected animals.

What can travelers do to prevent Monkeypox?

Travelers can protect themselves against infection by taking the following steps.

  • 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 with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially before eating or touching your face and after you use the bathroom.

In Central and West Africa, avoid contact with animals that can spread monkeypox virus, usually rodents and primates. Also, avoid sick or dead animals, as well as bedding or other materials they have touched.

What should you do if you develop monkeypox symptoms?

If you have symptoms of monkeypox or had close contact with someone who has monkeypox, talk to your healthcare provider. If you have symptoms, do not travel until you confirm you do not have monkeypox.

Do Not Travel if You Have Monkeypox
  • Isolate at home or in another location until your symptoms are gone and your rash has healed; this means all scabs have fallen off and a fresh layer of skin has formed.
  • If you have monkeypox and must travel:
    • Make sure that you do not have fever or respiratory symptoms such as sore throat, nasal congestion, or cough.
    • Cover your rash and wear a well-fitting mask.
Additional Travel Considerations
  • If you test positive for monkeypox while at your international destination, you may be subject to local public health laws and regulations. These could include requirements to isolate and not being allowed travel until you are no longer considered contagious.
  • If you have been in contact with a person who has monkeypox and travel internationally, you may be subject to local public health laws and regulations. These could include requirements to quarantine and not being allowed travel until you are no longer at risk for developing monkeypox.
  • Some countries are screening arriving passengers for symptoms of monkeypox. If you have symptoms, you may be required to isolate and be tested for monkeypox. Check your destination’s ministry of health or US embassy website to learn about arrival procedures.
  • If you need medical care abroad, see Getting Health Care During Travel. Consider travel health and medical evacuation insurance. Options for treatment may not be available in some countries.

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