Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Get Ready Mailbag: What is Monkeypox?

Welcome to another installment of the Get Ready Mailbag, when we take time to answer questions sent our way by readers like you! Have a question you want answered? Send an email to 

Q: I live in the U.S. Should I be worried about monkeypox? 

Cynthia S. Goldsmith, Russell Regnery,
 courtesy CDC PHIL 

We understand your concern. Monkeypox has been in the news a lot lately. But don’t panic! Knowing what monkeypox is and how to avoid it will help you be prepared. 

Monkeypox is nothing new. It was first discovered in 1958 when monkeys got sick with a rash. The first human case of monkeypox was in 1970. So, why are we hearing so much about it now? That’s because there is a 2022 outbreak of monkeypox. This means the disease was found in countries that normally don’t have it, including the United States

There is no reason to panic, but you should watch out for the disease and use good hygiene to avoid getting sick. 

As of July 12, the U.S. has a total of 929 monkeypox cases. The CDC is frequently updating its map of cases by state. 

Look out for these symptoms of monkeypox and go to the doctor immediately if you have any, especially a rash.  

Symptoms include: 

· Fever 

· Headache 

· Body aches 

· Chills 

· Feeling very tired 

· A rash 

A rash is very common with monkeypox. The rash is usually found on the face, mouth, hands and feet but can be located anywhere on the body. The rash typically looks like pimples, blisters or scabs. It can be itchy or painful. There is treatment available for people who get very sick, but this is rare. Most people get better on their own in 2-4 weeks. 

Monkeypox mostly spreads through skin-to-skin contact, saliva and by touching something an infected person has touched. Monkeypox spreads easily during sexual activity, but it is NOT a sexually transmitted disease. This means that it is not spread through vaginal fluid or semen, but it can spread through contact with skin or saliva which are common during sexual activities. Talk to your partner about any new sicknesses or unexplained rashes or sores. If you or your partner are feeling unwell or have a rash, avoid having sex or do so without saliva or skin-to-skin contact. In general, the best way to prevent getting monkeypox is to not touch a person with the illness or anything they have touched.  Wash your hands and use hand sanitizer, especially after being in public areas, to stay healthy.  

There are vaccines available to prevent monkeypox. The CDC recommends that men who have sex with men, who are currently at a higher risk, and people who have been exposed to monkeypox get vaccinated. It is also highly recommended that all individuals get vaccinated against smallpox. Since smallpox and monkeypox are similar, studies have shown that having the smallpox vaccine lowers your chances of getting monkeypox by 85%. The CDC has more information about vaccinations on its website.