Beginning in May 2022, cases of monkeypox have been reported in more than 50 countries that don’t normally report monkeypox, including the United States. Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. Monkeypox virus is part of the same family of viruses as smallpox. Monkeypox symptoms are similar to smallpox symptoms, but milder; and monkeypox is rarely fatal. Monkeypox is not related to chickenpox.
Cases in Connecticut
As of November 18, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 143 people in Connecticut have tested positive for orthopoxvirus/monkeypox. Due the number of cases statewide and related privacy concerns, cases are not being reported at the town level. Click here for CT DPH's data page on monkeypox. It is updated every Tuesday.
Anyone can get and spread monkeypox. The current cases are primarily spreading among social networks of gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM). If you are an MSM and have multiple or anonymous sex partners, your likelihood of exposure is high.
If you have a new or unexpected rash or sores, contact a health care provider.
Video: Monkeypox and Stigma: A Patient's Perspective (CT DPH Video - YouTube).
The Clinicians FAQ answers common questions from healthcare providers and can be used together with CDC’s Information for Healthcare Professionals. Healthcare providers should visit the CT Department of Public Health's Monkeypox webpage for recommendations, information on diagnostic lab testing, treatment options, and additional resources.
If you have symptoms of monkeypox, you should see a health care provider for testing. Any healthcare provider can test for monkeypox and submit to one of the 5 current commercial labs ( Aegis Sciences, LabCorp, Mayo Clinic, Quest, and Sonic Healthcare) or the state public health lab. You should only get tested for monkeypox if you are experiencing symptoms. Tell the provider you are experiencing symptoms.
Testing involves a provider taking a swab of a sore. Only your provider — not the Health Department — can give you the test result. While you are waiting for your test result, which can take a few days, isolate from others.
Transmission (how it spreads)
Monkeypox can spread from person-to-person through:
- Direct contact with the infectious rash, scabs, or body fluids
- Respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact, or during intimate physical contact, such as kissing, cuddling, or sex
- Touching items (such as clothing or linens) that previously touched the infectious rash or body fluids of an infected person
- Pregnant people can spread the virus to their fetus through the placenta
Monkeypox can spread from the time symptoms start until the rash has fully healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed. The illness typically lasts two – four weeks. People who do not have monkeypox symptoms cannot spread the virus to others. At this time, it is not known if monkeypox can spread through semen or vaginal fluids.
CDC - 5 Things Sexually Active People Need to Know About Monkeypox (YouTube video).
Monkeypox can be spread to pets - please click here for CDC's guidance on Pets in the Home.
To reduce the chance of getting and spreading monkeypox:
- If you or your partners are sick, especially if you or they have a new or unexpected rash or sore, do not have sex or close physical contact. Avoid clubs, parties or gatherings until you have talked to a health care provider.
- Wash your hands, sex toys and bedding before and after sex or other intimate activities.
When making plans, consider the level of risk. Having sex or other intimate contact with multiple or anonymous people (such as those met through social media, dating apps, or at parties) increases your risk of exposures. Clubs, raves, saunas, sex parties and other places with skin-to-skin or face-to-face contact with many people may also increase your risk of exposure, especially if people are wearing less clothing. For gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men, these activities currently put them at high risk for exposure.
Not every person has the same ability or resources to remain at home for a long period of time. This table (link) provides options for how to prevent spreading monkeypox to others, organized by the risk of spread. Whenever possible, higher risk options should be avoided, and the lowest risk options should be followed.
Symptoms usually start within 3 weeks of exposure to the virus. If someone has flu-like symptoms, they will usually develop a rash 1-4 days later.
The most common symptom is a rash or sores that can look like pimples or blisters. These may be all over the body or just in certain parts, such as the face, hands or feet, as well as on or inside the mouth, genitals or anus. The rash and sores can be extremely itchy and painful and may interfere with daily activities. Symptoms can last for two to four weeks.
Complications can include inflammation of the lining of the rectum (proctitis), or sores that could result in scarring of the eye, mouth, anus or urethra.
Some people also have flu-like symptoms, such as fever, swollen lymph nodes, headache, and tiredness. These symptoms can occur before or at the same time as the rash or sores.
If you think you have symptoms, separate from others and contact a health care provider for evaluation.
If You Have Symptoms
A person is contagious until all sores have healed and a new layer of skin has formed, which can take two to four weeks.
If you start experiencing symptoms, isolate from others immediately and talk to your health care provider. The provider will check your symptoms and may order testing.
The following may increase your risk for severe disease if you are infected: HIV; other conditions that weaken your immune system; and a history of atopic dermatitis or eczema. If you have one of these conditions, it is especially important to see a provider right away, if you have symptoms.
To protect others while you are sick:
- Avoid sex or being intimate with anyone until you have been checked by a provider. Here are some tips to lower your risk during sex.
- Stay home and separate from other people in your household.
- If you cannot fully separate from others in your household, wear a face mask and avoid physical contact. Wear clothing that covers your lesions when in shared spaces.
- If you must leave home for essential needs or medical care, cover your rash and lesions with clothing and wear a face mask.
- Do not share or let others touch your clothing, towels, bedding or utensils. Do not share a bed.
- Do not share dishes, food, drink or utensils. Wash dishes with warm water and soap or in a dishwasher.
- Wash your hands and clean shared surfaces, such as countertops and doorknobs, often. Household members should also wash their hands often, especially if they touch materials or surfaces that may have come in contact with lesions.
- If you have pets in the home, avoid contact with your pet as much as possible. If you need to care for your pet, keep your rash fully covered to avoid contact between the rash and animal. Wear a well-fitting mask.
There is no specific treatment approved for monkeypox. Most people get better on their own without treatment. However, antivirals for smallpox may help. Your provider will help you find out if you are eligible for antiviral treatment. They may be able to prescribe medicine and provide information about symptom relief.
Our Department is not a direct provider of monkeypox vaccine (called JYNNEOS). The vaccine is given as a 2-dose series. It takes 14 days after getting the second dose of JYNNEOS for its immune protection to reach its maximum. People should take precautions to reduce their exposure to monkeypox until immune protection from vaccines has reached its maximum.
Connecticut has 20 monkeypox vaccine providers. There is currently a limited supply of JYNNEOS vaccine and vaccination is prioritized for individuals at the highest risk of exposure to someone with monkeypox. Persons with symptoms who have had close personal contact with someone with known monkeypox in the past 14 days should contact their health care provider. Vaccine is not recommended for individuals with current monkeypox illness. Persons without symptoms who have had close personal contact with someone with known monkeypox in the past 14 days can contact their Local Health Department (link here) to get a referral for expedited vaccination.
Appointments will be required; the vaccine is not available to walk-ins.
UPDATED SEPTEMBER 27: You are eligible to be vaccinated if you are residing, attending school, or stationed in Connecticut and meet one of the following:
- You had close personal contact in the past 14 days with a positive case of monkeypox (this may include sexual partners, household contacts, and healthcare workers); OR
- You meet at least one of the following criteria:
- Had a sexual partner in the past 6 months who was diagnosed with monkeypox; OR
- Had multiple sexual partners in the past 6 months in a jurisdiction (e.g., city/state/country) with known monkeypox; OR
- Have a current partner who has multiple sexual partners in a jurisdiction with known monkeypox; OR
- Anticipate having a new sexual partner or partners in the next 6 months in a jurisdiction with known monkeypox.
- Had a sexual partner in the past 6 months who was diagnosed with monkeypox; OR
If you are eligible to be vaccinated, you should especially consider getting vaccinated if:
- Your partners are showing symptoms of monkeypox, such as a rash or sores.
- You met recent partners through online applications or social media platforms (such as Grindr, Tinder or Scruff), or at clubs, raves, sex parties, saunas or other large gatherings.
- You have a condition that may increase your risk for severe disease if infected with monkeypox virus, such as HIV or another condition that weakens your immune system, or you have a history of atopic dermatitis or eczema.
Persons who have had monkeypox likely have some protection against another infection and are currently not eligible to be vaccinated.
- Accompanying slides to the above webinar