August 11, 2022
Monkeypox is a rare disease that is caused by infection with monkeypox virus. Monkeypox belongs to the Orthopox genus, which also includes the viruses that cause smallpox and cowpox. Monkeypox is of public health concern because the illness is similar to smallpox and can be spread from infected humans, animals, and materials contaminated with the virus. Monkeypox is less contagious and usually less severe than smallpox.
Monkeypox was first identified in 1958 and occurs primarily in Central and West African countries. Historically, monkeypox cases have rarely occurred in the U.S. and had mostly been related to international travel or the importation of animals. There is a recent significant increase in reported cases where monkeypox is not commonly seen, including in Europe, Canada and the United States.
Monkeypox symptoms can include:
- Fever and chills
- Muscle aches and backache
- Swollen lymph nodes
Monkeypox also includes a rash that can look like pimples or blisters that appears on the face, inside the mouth, and on other parts of the body, like the chest, feet, genitals, or anus. See examples of monkeypox rash here.
Symptom onset ranges from 5-21 days after exposure, although recent studies have identified a median incubation period of approximately 7 days between exposure and onset of disease. The rash goes through different stages before healing completely. The illness typically last 2-4 weeks. Sometimes people get a rash first, followed by other symptoms. Others only experience the rash.
Monkeypox is spread through:
- Direct contact with an infected animal
- Direct contact with rash, sores or bodily fluids of an infected person
- Respiratory droplets during prolonged face-to-face contact such as kissing, or during intimate contact, such as cuddling or sex
- Touching contaminated materials (such as clothing or bedding) that have previously touched an infectious rash or bodily fluids
Monkeypox sores can be painful but rarely lead to severe illness, hospitalization or death. Monkeypox is currently a worldwide epidemic. While monkeypox can infect anyone, many of the recent cases in 2022 have occurred among persons self-identifying as men who have sex with men (MSM).
Talk to your heathcare provider if you have a new skin rash or lesions, especially when accompanied by other symptoms. You may be tested for monkeypox if you also:
- Have traveled to a region with monkeypox cases
- Had close contact with a person who has a similar rash or confirmed monkeypox
- Had intimate physical/sexual contact with a partner, especially in the MSM community
NH DPHS has a small amount of monkeypox vaccine available and will provide JYNNEOS vaccine through provider clinics that have agreed to receive referrals for vaccination from clinicians both in and outside their health system. Information about clinic locations, availability, eligibility and contact/referral information can be found on the NH DPHS monkeypox website starting Monday, August 15, 2022.
Persons can be vaccinated using NH vaccine supply if they are residents of NH, work in NH, or have a NH primary care provider.
NH DHHS Disease Prevention - Monkeypox Information
Dartmouth Health Hotline (answer general questions about monkeypox): (603) 650-1818
Monkeypox facts and prevention - CDC
State-by-State case counts - CDC