Monkeypox information

Aug. 15, 2022

This post was updated on November 4th, 2022 at 04:35 PM

What is monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. The monkeypox virus is part of the same family of viruses as the variola virus, the virus that causes smallpox. Monkeypox symptoms are similar to smallpox symptoms, but are generally milder.

How does monkeypox spread?

Monkeypox can spread to anyone through close, personal contact, including:

  • Direct contact with monkeypox rash, scabs, or body fluids from a person with monkeypox.
  • Touching objects, fabrics (clothing, bedding, or towels), and surfaces that have been used by someone with monkeypox.
  • Contact with respiratory secretions (mucus) of someone with monkeypox.
Symptoms of monkeypox
  • Symptoms of monkeypox are similar to the flu, and can include:
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Chills
  • Exhaustion
  • Respiratory symptoms (like sore throat, nasal congestion, or cough)
  • Rash (can look like pimples or blisters, and may be painful or itchy)
Vaccines for monkeypox

The CDC recommends vaccines for people who have been exposed to monkeypox or are more likely to get monkeypox. Learn more about the vaccine protection and who is at greater risk to contract monkeypox.

Please call your primary care provider or schedule a Virtual Visit if any of these apply to you:

  • Have been in contact with someone who tested positive for, or had symptoms of Monkeypox OR
  • Flu-like symptoms accompanied by a rash 1-4 days later OR
  • Have a rash (can initially look like pimples or blisters and may be painful or itchy) with or without flu-like symptoms.

To help protect everyone in our facilities, patients, visitors and UCHealth staff must wear a mask at all times, unless eating or drinking, in all public and patient-care areas. People may also want to consider wearing a mask in the community, especially if they have a weakened immune system or are over 60 years old.

Photo of a woman talking about monkeypox

How do humans get monkeypox?

To answer your questions about monkeypox, we consulted with Dr. Michelle Barron, senior medical director of infection prevention and control at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital on the Anschutz Medical Campus.