Monkeypox (Orthopoxvirus)

Go to: Transmission | Prevention | Symptoms | Vaccination 

About Monkeypox

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 August 11,  the CT Department of Public Health (DPH) reports that 54 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. For detailed information on cases at the county level, please contact CT DPH.

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.

Healthcare Professionals

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.

Testing

If you have symptoms of monkeypox, you should see a health care provider for testing. If you do not have a provider, call 211. Any healthcare provider can test for monkeypox and submit to one of the 5 current commercial labs ( Aegis SciencesLabCorpMayo ClinicQuest, 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.

 

Monkeypox is a contagious disease caused by the monkeypox virus. There is currently an outbreak of monkeypox in the U.S. and other countries where the virus does not usually spread.

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.

Prevention

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.

Symptoms

Six images of lesions to help identify monkeypox rash
Photo credit: UK Health Security Agency

Symptoms usually start within two weeks of exposure, but in some cases they may not appear for up to 21 days.

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. If you do not have a health care provider, call 211. 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.
  • 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.

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.

How to Safety Wash Your Laundry if you Have Monkeypox (PDF).      

Cómo lavar su ropa de manera segura si tiene viruela del mono. 

Vaccination

Our Department is not a direct provider of monkeypox vaccine (called JYNNEOS). Starting August 1, 2022, Connecticut will have 15 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. Vaccine is also available to people who meet all of the following conditions:

  • Gay, bisexual, or other man who has sex with men, and/or transgender, gender non-conforming, or gender non-binary, AND
  • Age 18 or older, AND 
  • Have had multiple or anonymous sex partners in the last 14 days

If eligible to be vaccinated, persons 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 of severe disease (HIV or another condition that weakens your immune system, 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.

CT DPH: JYNNEOS Vaccine for Monkeypox: Frequently Asked Questions (PDF, Updated 8/2/22)

Additional Resources

CT DPH Webinar - "What You Need To Know About Monkeypox" featuring Dr. Lynn Sosa (July 29, 2022)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Connecticut Department of Public Health

Community Health Center - Center for Key Populations

Community Health Center - Monkeypox Vaccine Availability (Middletown, New London, Stamford (Franklin St.), Danbury, Enfield, and Clinton locations only)

Hartford Gay and Lesbian Health Collective

Hartford Healthcare Center for Gender Health

Monkeypox: What You Need to Know (PDF)

Lo que necesita saber sobre la viruela del mono

Monkeypox 101 (CT Department of Public Health)

VIRUELA DEL MONO 101