How Do I Get Monkeypox?

Published: July 14, 2022
Revised: August 30, 2022
Melody Berg
By Melody Berg, PharmD, MPH, BCPS

Monkeypox is a disease caused by a virus. Until recently, monkeypox cases primarily occurred in Africa, but now it is spreading to countries like the United States.

How do I catch monkeypox?
Anyone can get monkeypox. There are several ways you can get the virus:

  • Touching sores, scabs, or bodily fluids of an infected person
  • Breathing in respiratory secretions when face-to-face with an infected person
  • Touching materials like bed linens or clothing that has touched the sores of an infected person or animal
  • Handling the carcass of an infected animal
  • Being bitten by infected animal
  • Using products or eating meat from an infected animal

At this point, the majority of cases in the United States appear to be in gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men. However, this doesn’t mean this is the only group at risk. Anyone, regardless of sexual orientation, is at risk for monkeypox.

What are the symptoms of monkeypox?
Early signs of monkeypox include flu-like symptoms that occur a few days to a few weeks after being exposed. Symptoms include:

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

After a few days of flu-like symptoms, a rash develops. Not everyone develops all of the symptoms, and the rash may appear as only a few lesions.

Is Monkeypox curable?
Most people with monkeypox tend feel better on their own. The disease typically runs its course in two to four weeks. At this time there are currently no treatments for monkeypox, but your healthcare provider may recommend over-the-counter medications to relive your symptoms or prescribe an antibiotic if secondary infections develop. There are two vaccines that are effective against monkeypox. Click here for more information to see if you qualify to be vaccinated.

Summary
Monkeypox is a relatively rare disease typically found in Africa, but cases are emerging in other countries like the United States. As medication and vaccine experts, pharmacists have specialized training in educating patients and consumers about diseases and the best options to treat them or relieve symptoms. 

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