Student Health Services

Monkeypox FAQ

Monkeypox is a disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. Monkeypox virus is part of the same family of viruses as variola virus, the virus that causes smallpox. Monkeypox symptoms are similar to smallpox symptoms, but milder, and monkeypox is rarely fatal. Monkeypox is not related to chickenpox and it is not a sexually transmitted infection (STI). It can spread through any close, personal contact with someone infected.

A close contact is anyone you:

  • Have had sex with; this includes oral, anal, and vaginal sex
  • Have hugged, cuddled, or kissed
  • Shared cups, utensils, towels, clothing, bedding, blankets, or other objects and materials with
  • Have touched or who came in contact with the rash on your body

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the symptoms of monkeypox?
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches and backache
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Chills
  • Exhaustion
  • Respiratory symptoms (such as a sore throat, nasal congestion, or cough)
  • Rash or sores

In addition to classic symptoms, the current outbreak of monkeypox virus includes new symptoms that include but are not limited to: rectal pain, pain upon defecation, penile swelling or fluid retention, and other secondary bacterial infections.

Learn more about signs and symptoms (CDC)

How does monkeypox spread?

Monkeypox is spread through close contact with the infectious rash, scabs, or body fluids from a person with monkeypox or their contaminated materials (clothing, linens, bandages, dishes). It can also be spread by respiratory secretions during prolonged face-to-face contact, or during intimate physical contact – kissing, cuddling, sex.

Note: any close, sustained, skin-to-skin contact with someone who has monkeypox can spread the virus. The contact does not have to be exclusively intimate or sexual.

Live time on surfaces is unknown. Public health professionals have said a person is unlikely to contract monkeypox via surfaces such as public restrooms or trying on clothing at a store.

There have been no reports of transmission during quick interaction between people in close proximity, such as a brief conversation.

Monkeypox can spread to anyone through:

  • Direct contact with monkeypox rash or scabs on a person’s skin.
  • Contact with objects, fabrics (clothing, bedding, or towels), and surfaces that have been used by someone with monkeypox.
  • Contact with respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact like kissing, cuddling, or sex.
  • A pregnant person can spread the virus to their fetus through the placenta
How soon after exposure do symptoms develop?

The incubation period is roughly 1-2 weeks (range 5-21 days). It can take up to 21 days for symptoms to develop after exposure. During this time a person feels fine; there are no symptoms, and they are not contagious.

When is someone with monkeypox at risk of infecting others?

A person with monkeypox can spread it to others from the time symptoms start until the rash has fully healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed.

How can I protect myself?

The best way to protect yourself from monkeypox is to:

  • Avoid any rashes or sores you see on others and minimize skin-to-skin contact when possible.
  • Avoid sex and other intimate contact with multiple or anonymous partners.
  • If you feel sick or have any rashes or sores, do not attend any gatherings and see a healthcare provider.
What should I do if I have symptoms such as a rash?
  • If you have a new or unexplained rash or other symptoms, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that you avoid close contact, including sex or being intimate with anyone, until you have been checked out by a healthcare provider.
  • Cover all skin rashes to the extent possible by wearing long sleeves or long pants.
  • If you have been tested for monkeypox and are waiting for results, isolate and avoid close contact with other people and animals, including pets.
How long do I need to isolate?
  • For patients with monkeypox, isolation precautions should be continued until cleared by public health officials or the physician after all lesions have resolved, the scabs have fallen off, and a fresh layer of intact skin has formed.
  • Isolate in a room or area separate from other household members and pets when possible.
  • Do not leave the home except as required for emergencies or follow-up medical care.
  • Persons without an essential need to be in the home should not visit.
  • Once all scabs have fallen off and a fresh layer of skin has formed, a person is no longer contagious. Pitted scars and/or areas of lighter or darker skin may remain after scabs have fallen off.
  • It is currently unclear if transmission can occur through semen and, if so, for how long. Therefore, as a precaution, condom use is recommended during sexual activities for 12 weeks after recovery from monkeypox disease.
How and where can I get tested for monkeypox virus?

If you have symptoms of monkeypox, talk to a healthcare provider (call Student Health Services at 440-775-8180) right away. A healthcare provider will help you decide if you need to be tested for monkeypox. If they decide you should be tested, they will work with you to collect the specimens and send them to a laboratory for testing. Laboratory testing results can take up to two weeks.

Monkeypox testing is available at the Lorain County Department of Health, Mercy Allen Emergency Department, and commercial labs including Quest, Labcorp, Sonica Healthcare, Mayo Clinic, and Aegis Sciences Corporation.

Before you see a healthcare provider (or while waiting for test results), you should:

  • Avoid close contact with others.
  • Avoid close contact with pets or other animals
Who is at risk?

Anyone can get monkeypox if they come in close contact with someone infected with the virus, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation. At this time, most, but not all cases of monkeypox within the 2022 outbreak have been found in people who identify as gay, bisexual, or men who have sex with men.

Is there a vaccine available? Who is eligible to receive it?

Yes, there is a vaccine available for people who fall in high risk groups.

According to Cuyahoga County Board of Health’s website, they are working with community partners to help individuals in the Tier 3 category, which includes:

  • Those who are HIV positive
  • Those who have had a sexually transmitted infection within the past 12 months
  • Men who have sex with men, transgender, or gender non-conforming who have had multiple anonymous sexual partners in the last 3 weeks
  • Men who have sex with men, transgender, or gender non-conforming who have attended a sex party or bathhouse in last 3 weeks
  • Anyone who exchanges sex for money, goods, or services
What are the treatments?

Many people infected with monkeypox virus have a mild, self-limiting disease that lasts 2-4 weeks and gets better without medication. However, the prognosis for monkeypox depends on multiple factors, such as previous vaccination status, initial health status, concurrent illnesses, and comorbidities among others.

Antiviral medicines developed for use in patients with smallpox are being released from the US Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) as a treatment option in some cases. Tecovirimat, aka TPOXX, is the most common

Patients who should be considered for this treatment following consultation with the CDC might include:

  1. People with severe monkeypox disease (e.g., hemorrhagic disease, confluent   lesions, sepsis, encephalitis, or other conditions requiring hospitalization).
  2. People who may be at high risk of severe disease: people with immunocompromise, children under 8, people who are pregnant or breastfeeding, and people with one or more complications.
  3. People with monkeypox virus aberrant infections that include accidental implantation in eyes, mouth, or other anatomical areas where monkeypox virus infection might constitute a special hazard (e.g., the genitals or anus).
What can I do to prevent the spread of monkeypox?
  • 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.
    • Do not share eating utensils or cups with a person with monkeypox.
  • Limit use of spaces, items, and food that are shared with other household members.
  • Do not share dishes and other eating utensils. It is not necessary for the infected person to use separate utensils if properly washed. Wash soiled dishes and eating utensils in a dishwasher or by hand with warm water and soap.
  • Do not handle or touch the bedding, towels, or clothing of a person with monkeypox.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • To limit contamination within the household, avoid direct contact with upholstered furniture and porous materials that cannot be laundered by placing coversheets, waterproof mattress covers, blankets, or tarps over these surfaces.
  • Additional precautions such as steam cleaning can be considered if there is concern about contamination.
  • Wear a well-fitting mask or respirator for source control when in close contact with others at home
  • It is currently unclear if transmission can occur through semen and, if so, for how long. Therefore, as a precaution, condom use is recommended during sexual activities for 12 weeks after recovery from monkeypox disease.

For more prevention information, see the CDC's Monkeypox Prevention webpage.

Local resources for testing and vaccines

Mercy Health – Allen Hospital
200 West Lorain St.
Oberlin, OH  44074
(440) 775- 1211

Lorain County Public Health
Infectious Disease Nurse: Kathy Grella
9880 Murray Ridge Rd.
Elyria, OH 44035