What is Monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a disease caused by a virus. You can get monkeypox if you:

  • Are bitten or scratched by an infected rodent or primate
  • Touch a sick animal
  • Touch contaminated objects (such as animal bedding), or products from infected animals, such as skins (hides) and meat
  • Are near an infected person and breathe in the virus when they cough or sneeze
  • Touch the rash or scabs of an infected person
  • Touch contaminated objects such as bed linens, clothing, or medical equipment

Monkeypox symptoms usually happen in two stages. The first stage includes fever, headache, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, and exhaustion. One to three days after the fever starts, a rash appears.

The second stage begins with the rash that starts on the face before spreading to other parts of the body. The rash turns into sores all over the body. Eventually, scabs form where the sores were. Until the scabs fall off and a fresh layer of skin appears, a person can spread monkeypox virus to others. Monkeypox can last up to a month. In Africa, as many as 1 out of 10 people with the disease die.

Who is at risk?

Monkeypox is found mainly in Central and West Africa, often in tropical forested areas, although monkeypox has also spread in cities.

Travelers who work closely with animals (veterinarians and wildlife professionals) are more likely to get infected. People who care for monkeypox patients without using appropriate infection control practices may also be more likely to get infected.

Cases are rare among travelers but have occurred.

What can travelers do to prevent Monkeypox?

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

Avoid animals when traveling

  • Don’t touch live or dead animals.
  • Do not touch or eat products that come from wild animals.
  • Avoid markets or farms with animals.
  • Avoid touching materials, such as bedding, that are used by animals.
  • If you are traveling to work with animals, wear appropriate protective gear.

Wash your hands

  • Wash hands often with soap and water. If soap and water aren’t available, use and alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
  • Keep your hands away from your eyes, nose, and mouth. If you need to touch your face, make sure your hands are clean.

Avoid close contact with people who are sick

  • Do not kiss, hug, or share eating utensils or cups.
  • Do not touch the bedding or clothing of a sick person.


If you traveled and feel sick, particularly if you have a fever, talk to a healthcare provider, and tell them about your travel. Avoid contact with other people while you are sick.

If you need medical care abroad, see Getting Health Care During Travel.


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