Mpox, formerly known as monkeypox, is a rare disease caused by infection with the mpox virus. Mpox symptoms are generally mild, and most people are able to recover at home. It does not spread easily between people without close, prolonged contact and the threat of mpox to the general U.S. population remains low.

The incubation period (time from infection to onset of symptoms) is usually from 6 to 13 days, but can range from 5 to 21 days.


Symptoms of mpox:

Early flu-like symptoms such as:

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

A rash (usually within 1-3 days after the onset of fever) that can look like blisters that can appear on the: 

  • Face
  • Inside the mouth
  • Other parts of the body like hands, feet, chest, genitals or anus

Be aware that symptoms may vary. A person can experience all or just a few of these symptoms. Some people experience a rash first, followed by other symptoms. Others only experience a rash.

If you think you have mpox

Call your healthcare provider and inform them of your symptoms. Even if you don’t know if you’ve been exposed to mpox, new flu-like symptoms and/or rashes should be assessed virtually by your health care provider. Unless you are in an emergency situation, symptoms should be assessed through virtual appointments with a healthcare provider to avoid overwhelming the hospital and urgent care system. While diagnosis is being confirmed and you are waiting on test results, you should isolate at home.

Exposure to mpox

How mpox spreads

Mpox is rare and does not spread easily without close contact with someone who is symptomatic. While death from mpox is rare, symptoms can become severe and painful. It’s important to understand how mpox spreads so that you can avoid situations that may put you at a higher risk. Mpox can spread to anyone through close, personal, often skin-to-skin contact such as:  

  • Direct contact with infectious rash, scabs, sores, or body fluids.
  • Contact such as hugging, kissing, massaging, sexual activity or talking closely.
  • Close, prolonged contact with respiratory droplets or oral fluids from a person with mpox.  
  • Touching items such as clothing, bedding, towels or surfaces used by someone with mpox.  
  • Pregnant people can spread the virus to their fetus through the placenta.  

If you have been exposed to mpox

If you suspect that you may have been exposed to an individual or animal with mpox, it is highly recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention while quarantine is not necessary, you monitor yourself for symptoms for 21 days after the last exposure.  

If symptoms develop:  

  • A new or unexplained rash, sores, or other related symptoms could be indicative of mpox, so if symptoms begin, be sure to: 
  • Contact your health care provider. If you do not have one, you can contact the Springfield-Greene County Health Department at 417-874-1211 for more information on next steps.  
  • Immediately self-isolate and avoid close contact, sex or being intimate with anyone until you have been checked out. Please see full isolation guidelines here.  
  • Avoid close contact with pets or other animals until a healthcare provider examines you.  
Follow these precautions while awaiting test results.  

If you are/remain asymptomatic:  

  • You can continue with daily activities like work or school.  
  • Don’t donate blood, cells, tissue, breast milk, semen, or organs while monitoring your symptoms.  

What to do if you have mpox


If symptoms have developed, you will need to isolate at home until you are no longer considered contagious to other people. This occurs after all lesions have resolved, scabs have fallen off, and a fresh layer of intact skin has formed.  This could take up to 2-4 weeks. 

The CDC recommends the following steps for isolation:  

  • Do not leave the home except as required for emergencies or follow-up medical care. 
  • Isolate in a room or area separate from other household members and pets when possible. 
  • Do not share dishes, other eating utensils, bed linens, clothing, towels, wash cloths, or drinking glasses with others. 
  • Avoid close contact with others, including sexual activity that involves direct physical contact. 
  • Avoid contact with unaffected individuals until the rash has resolved, the scabs have fallen off, and a fresh layer of intact skin has formed. 
  • Friends, family or others without an essential need to be in the home should not visit. 
  • Limit use of spaces, items, and food that are shared with other household members. 
    • If possible, use a separate bathroom if there are others who live in the same household. Please see CDC instructions on when it is not possible to use a separate bathroom here
    • It is not necessary for the infected person to use separate utensils if properly washed.  
    • Wash soiled dishes and eating utensils in a dishwasher or by hand with warm water and soap. 

While isolating, you should: 

  • Routinely clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces and items, such as counters or light switches 
    • Use an EPA-registered disinfectant like hydrogen peroxide wipes (full list here) in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.  
    • Wear well-fitting source control like a medical mask when in close contact with others at home. 
  • Avoid use of contact lenses to prevent inadvertent infection of the eye. 
  • Avoid shaving rash-covered areas of the body as this can lead to spread of the virus. 
  • Try to avoid contaminating upholstered furniture and other porous materials that cannot be laundered by placing coversheets, waterproof mattress covers, blankets, or tarps over these surfaces. 
  • Additional precautions such as steam cleaning can be considered if there is concern about contamination. 
  • Follow all prevention recommendations and treatment provided by a healthcare provider.  
  • You will need to inform the health department of other individuals who may have been exposed to mpox. Identifying potential contacts will help them receive the proper treatments and protect others in the community from getting infected with mpox. 

Mpox treatment

Although there are no specific treatments for mpox, its genetic similarity to smallpox may allow antiviral drugs and vaccines that have been developed to protect against smallpox be used to prevent and treat mpox virus infections. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is mpox life-threatening?

Fatalities or severe illness from mpox is rare in non-endemic countries, with most cases being mild.

Is mpox as contagious as COVID-19?
Who can get mpox?
Who is at risk of severe outcomes from mpox?
How can I avoid getting mpox?
How long can mpox live on surfaces?

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