This viral disease is related to smallpox. It's known as "monkeypox" because it was first found in colonies of monkeys. But the virus infects other animals and humans, too.

Transmission from humans

How do you become infected? When this virus spreads from person to person, it's usually through close skin-to-skin contact. It spreads through the intimate contact that happens during hugging, kissing and sex. You can catch it by touching an infected person's rash, scabs or body fluids. You can get it by touching contaminated clothing, bedsheets or surfaces. If you're face-to-face with an infected person, they can pass it to you through coughs, sneezes and breathing. And, a pregnant mother can pass it to her unborn baby.

Transmission from animals

You can also catch the virus by handling an infected animal. This is especially true if you touch its blood or sores. You can get it from a bite or a scratch. And, it can spread through infected meat or animal products.

Who's at risk

Who's at risk? Anyone can catch or spread this virus, but we're seeing the greatest spread among gay and bisexual men, and among other men who have sex with men.


What are the symptoms? An infection usually begins with fever, chills and headache. You have muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes and exhaustion. Within days, you develop a rash. It often shows on the face, mouth or other parts of the body, like the hands, feet, chest, genitals or anus. The rash causes flat red bumps on your skin. These turn into raised, pus-filled blisters. After a few days, the blisters form crusty scabs, which fall off. It takes two to four weeks for the virus to run its course.


How do we treat it? If you have a rash that looks like monkeypox, it's important to talk to your healthcare provider. Most people will get better on their own without treatment, or with medications to relieve symptoms. Infections are rarely fatal.  But if you have a severe infection, your doctor will create a plan that's right for you.