What Are the Symptoms of Monkeypox?

The infectious disease mpox, formerly known as monkeypox, began spreading worldwide in 2022, including in the United States. In general, mpox has similar but less severe symptoms than smallpox. It can cause a flu-like syndrome and most commonly a painful rash that may appear on many different parts of the body.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you should call your doctor if you notice a new, unexplained rash with or without other symptoms.

Here’s what to know about mpox symptoms.

When Do Mpox Symptoms Appear?

Mpox symptoms typically appear within three weeks of exposure. The incubation period for the mpox virus can last from five to 21 days, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The mpox virus most readily spreads through close physical contact with someone who’s infected. This includes skin-on-skin contact or touching an object that contacted the body fluids or sores of an infected person. It also can spread through prolonged respiratory contact with someone who’s infected.

People can typically begin spreading mpox themselves when their symptoms appear. Some people can begin spreading it before symptoms appear.

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What Does a Mpox Rash Look Like?

A rash is the most common symptom of mpox. It can look like a sore, a pus-filled bump on the skin, a blister, or even a pimple. Mpox lesions are often itchy or painful.

The rash can appear in many different places on the skin. According to the CDC, common locations for mpox rashes include:

  • On or near your genitals (penis, testicles, labia, or vagina).
  • Your anus.
  • Your chest.
  • Your face.
  • Your feet.
  • Your hands.
  • Your mouth.

The rash can appear in multiple places on the body at the same time. Lesions go through several different stages before scabbing over and healing. You aren’t fully healed until your scabs are gone and a new layer of skin has formed.

What are other mpox symptoms?

Besides a rash, mpox can cause several other symptoms. These symptoms often appear before the rash does. They may include:

  • Fever.
  • Chills.
  • Fatigue.
  • Muscle aches.
  • Headache.

The order in which symptoms appear can vary from person to person. Some people may experience the rash first followed by other symptoms, while others may feel symptoms before the rash appears. Others may only get the rash.

What Should I Do If I Have Mpox Symptoms?

Call your doctor if you begin to experience an unexplained rash or other symptoms of mpox. Because the mpox rash looks like other rashes, it’s best to get tested to get a diagnosis.

Until you get tested, you should remain isolated. Avoid close contact with other people and animals. If you’re around others, wear a facemask that covers your nose and mouth and cover your rash if you have one.

Even if you don’t have symptoms, you should call your doctor if you recently had prolonged close contact with someone who has suspected or confirmed mpox. You may be eligible for a mpox vaccine.

If you test positive for mpox, you should avoid contact with others until you’re fully healed. You are contagious from when symptoms appear until your rash completely heals.

Most people recover without treatment. But doctors may use antiviral medications for smallpox because of the diseases’ similarities.

Doctors may recommend tecovirimat, also known as Tpoxx®. The drug isn’t available in pharmacies but can be obtained through health centers participating in the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) expanded access program.

Treatment is also available through a federally funded trial. Contact your doctor or local health department to discuss treatment and enrolling in the CDC STOMP trial. Patient enrollment in the STOMP trial is optional.

How Long Do Mpox Symptoms Last?

Mpox symptoms can last up to two to four weeks. You are still contagious until the scabs have fallen off and a new layer of skin has formed underneath.

Until you’re fully healed, you should stay isolated and refrain from close contact with others. If you’re around other people, wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth, and cover up your rash.

If there are others in your household, they also should take prevention precautions. Those include wearing a facemask, washing their hands frequently, avoiding contact with you and with items you may have touched, and considering getting the JYNNEOS vaccine to prevent transmission.

For more information on mpox, visit our website.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published on , and was last reviewed on .

American Academy of Dermatology Association, Dermatologist Explains What the Monkeypox Rash Looks Like. Link

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, About Monkeypox, Frequently Asked Questions. Link

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Monkeypox, Clinical Guidance, Clinical Recognition. Link

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Monkeypox, Signs and Symptoms. Link

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