Mpox (formerly Monkeypox)

Mpox is a potentially serious viral illness. It can be transmitted through direct contact with an infected person’s body fluids or Mpox rashes or lesions. 

Mpox is part of the same family of viruses as the variola virus, the virus that causes smallpox. Mpox symptoms are similar to smallpox symptoms but milder, and Mpox is rarely fatal.

The current level of Mpox in the U.S. is higher than normal, but the risk to the general population is low. Most people affected in the current outbreak have generally reported having close physical contact for a sustained time with someone who has Mpox

How is Mpox spread?

Mpox can be spread from person to person through close, personal contact (often skin-to-skin contact), including:

  • Direct contact with Mpox lesions, sores, rashes, or scabs.
  • Contact with objects, surfaces, and fabrics (such as clothing, bedding, or towels) that have been used by someone with Mpox.
  • Through oral fluids or respiratory droplets from a person with Mpox during prolonged face-to-face contact.
  • This contact can happen during intimate sexual contact, including: 
    • Anal, oral, and vaginal sex or touching the genitals and/or anus of a person with Mpox.
    • Hugging, kissing, massaging, and talking closely.
    • Touching fabrics and objects during sex that were used by a person with Mpox (this includes bedding, sex toys, and towels).

People can also get Mpox from an infected animal through a bite or direct contact with the infected animal’s blood, body fluids, or sores. 

Mpox is not as contagious as COVID-19. It does not spread through casual contact or having a conversation with someone who has Mpox. You must have prolonged, physical contact or share bedding/clothing/towels with someone who has Mpox for it to spread.

How quickly do symptoms start?

From the time of infection until you start showing symptoms is typically 7-14 days, but it can range from 5-21 days.

What are the symptoms of Mpox?

Mpoxcan look different in different stages of the illness. It may begin with:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Backache
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Chills
  • Exhaustion

A rash, often appearing on the face and then spreading, usually occurs within 1-3 days. The sores go through several stages before they fall off. Illness typically lasts for 2-4 weeks. 

A person is considered infectious from the time symptoms begin until the rash/sores have crusted, separated, and a fresh layer of healthy skin has formed. 

What should I do if I’ve been exposed or have symptoms of Mpox?

  • Isolate yourself from others (including pets). 
  • Cover skin rashes/lesions as best as you can. Wear long sleeves and long pants to avoid contact with surfaces or other people. 
  • Wear a surgical mask.
  • Contact your healthcare provider right away. Your healthcare provider can help you get tested for Mpox and determine your next steps. 

Refer to this fact sheet on what to do if you have been exposed by the Washtenaw County Health Department. 


There are vaccines that can be given to prevent Mpox. If someone has been exposed, getting vaccinated within 4 days can prevent the onset of the virus. Getting vaccinated between 4-14 days after exposure may reduce symptoms of the virus. 

UHS has a limited supply of the Jynneos vaccine available. Please refer to the Washtenaw County Health Department vaccination eligibility page and our frequently asked questions page to determine if you qualify and for scheduling information.

How do you diagnose Mpox?

UHS offers Mpox testing. You must have a rash or sores on your skin to get an Mpox test. To make a diagnosis, your healthcare provider will need to do a skin swab test. Preliminary tests are generally available in a few days. Blood tests may also be done to look for other infections that can look like an Mpox rash.

See this fact sheet from the Washtenaw County Health Department if you’re waiting for Mpox test results

What should I do if I test positive for Mpox?

  • Follow the guidance of your healthcare provider. 
  • Avoid direct contact with anyone until all of your rash/sores are healed and you have a fresh layer of skin formed. 

Additional instructions from the Washtenaw County Health Department are available on their if you test positive fact sheet.

Is there treatment for Mpox?

There is no specific treatment for Mpox, though antivirals for smallpox may be used. Most infections last 2-4 weeks and resolve without specific treatment.

How can Mpox be prevented?

  • Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with people who have Mpox lesions or rashes that look like they may be Mpox.
  • Avoid contact with any fabrics or materials, such as bedding, clothing, and towels, that have been in contact with an infected person or a sick animal.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer after contact with infected animals or humans.
  • Talk to close physical and sexual contacts about their general health, like recent rashes or sores. 
  • Use personal protective equipment (eye protection, gloves, and an N95/KN95 mask) when caring for sick people.
  • Avoid contact with animals that could harbor the virus (including animals that are sick or that have been found dead in areas where Mpox occurs).
  • Do not dry dust or sweep as this may spread infectious particles.

Other rashes to consider

If you are sexually active, UHS recommends getting screened regularly for sexually transmitted infections. Syphilis and herpes are much more common than Mpox and they may be similar in appearance. All infections should be treated. 

More information and resources