What is monkeypox?
Monkeypox is a potentially serious viral illness that typically involves flu-like symptoms, swelling of the lymph nodes and a possibly painful rash that includes bumps that are initially filled with fluid before scabbing over. Illness could be confused with a sexually transmitted infection like syphilis or herpes, or with chickenpox.
Most people with monkeypox recover in 2-4 weeks, but the disease can be serious, especially for immunocompromised people, children and pregnant people.
To date, there have been zero confirmed deaths resulting from monkeypox in this recent U.S. outbreak.
How is monkeypox spread?
Monkeypox spreads in different ways. Monkeypox virus is most often spread from one person to another, through direct contact with a rash or sores of someone who has the virus.
It can also spread through contact with clothing, bedding and other shared items used by a person with monkeypox; or via respiratory droplets that can be passed through prolonged face-to-face contact, or during intimate physical contact including kissing, cuddling or sex.
People who do not have monkeypox symptoms cannot spread the virus to others.
What are the symptoms of monkeypox?
You may experience all or only a few of the symptoms of monkeypox. Symptoms of monkeypox can include:
- Muscle aches and backache
- Swollen lymph nodes
- 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 hands, feet, chest, genitals or anus
Sometimes people get a rash first, followed by other symptoms. Others only experience a rash. Some cases in the current U.S. outbreak have experienced only isolated rashes in the genital region or other body parts (e.g., hands, chest, face, in the mouth). Lesions are often described as painful until the healing phase when they become itchy (crusts).
Symptoms usually start within two weeks of exposure to the virus but can start up to three weeks later. Within 1-3 days of symptoms beginning, people usually develop a rash or sores.
What do I do if I have symptoms?
Contact your healthcare provider immediately and avoid sex or other close, intimate contact until you have been checked out.
Testing for monkeypox is now widely available through reference laboratories in addition to the state public laboratory. If you have symptoms and would like to be tested for monkeypox, contact your healthcare provider. Anyone without a provider or insurance can also be tested at their local parish health unit or community clinic: ldh.la.gov/phu
Avoid gatherings, especially if they involve close, personal, skin-to-skin contact or prolonged face-to-face contact.
Talk to your partners about any recent illness and be aware of new or unexplained sores or rashes on your body or your partner’s body, including rashes on the genitals and anus.
People with new rashes should also be aware that the rate of syphilis is rising in Louisiana and nationally.
If your test for monkeypox is positive, stay isolated until your rash has healed, all scabs have fallen off, and a fresh layer of intact skin has formed.
Is there a monkeypox vaccine?
Yes. JYNNEOS is the name of the FDA-approved monkeypox vaccine - it is two doses, administered 28 days apart. Full protection begins two weeks after the second shot. The monkeypox vaccine is FDA approved and available at no cost to the individual.
Given how little vaccine we have received, our top priority for vaccination remains people with known exposures to monkeypox patients. There are two groups currently eligible for monkeypox vaccine: (1) individuals with known exposures as well as (2) individuals with likely high-risk exposures in the last 14 days.
Known exposures are identified via contact tracing. The second group was determined based on best practices identified in other jurisdictions as well as limited data collected regarding Louisiana's monkeypox cases to date.
Specifically, this second group includes: Gay, bisexual, other (cis or trans) men who have sex with men OR Transgender women and nonbinary persons assigned male at birth who have sex with men and
- Have had intimate or sexual contact with multiple or anonymous partners in last 14 days OR
- Have had intimate or sexual contact with other men in a social or sexual venue in the last 14 days
OR Individuals (of any sex/gender identity) who have given or received money or other goods/services in exchange for sex in the last 14 days
It is a high priority to provide vaccine pre-exposure to at-risk individuals; we are actively advocating CDC for sufficient allocations to be able to do so.
Important note: Anyone can contract monkeypox and the current eligibility criteria are only limited to the above groups because they are most at risk based on the first diagnoses we have seen. However, the criteria will be expanded as additional vaccine becomes available and/or individuals from other groups are diagnosed.
Here is a list of all locations in Louisiana that have received monkeypox vaccine. We recommend you call ahead.
What should individuals with concerns do?
People can take basic steps to prevent the spread of monkeypox, including:
- Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash that looks like monkeypox.
- Do not touch the rash or scabs of a person with monkeypox.
- Do not kiss, hug, cuddle or have sex with someone with monkeypox.
- Do not share eating utensils or cups with a person with monkeypox.
- Do not handle or touch the bedding, towels, or clothing of a person with monkeypox.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- If you do not feel well or have an unusual rash or sores, take a break from sex and going out to bars, gyms, clubs, and other events.
Am I at risk of getting monkeypox?
Monkeypox does not spread easily between people; however, anyone in close contact with a person with monkeypox can get it and should take steps to protect themselves. People who do not have monkeypox symptoms cannot spread the virus to others.
What should I do if I think I have been exposed to monkeypox?
Anyone with concerns that they have been exposed to monkeypox should monitor for symptoms for 21 days following their exposure, refrain from intimate or close personal contact with others, and seek medical attention if any symptoms develop. If you do develop symptoms, be sure to wear a mask and cover any lesions if you have a rash. Depending on the type of exposure, vaccine may be recommended as post-exposure prophylaxis to prevent illness.
If you remain asymptomatic you can continue routine daily activities (e.g., go to work, school), however it may be prudent for daycare-aged children to be excluded from daycare or group settings during the monitoring period. You should not donate blood, cells, tissue, breast milk, semen, or organs while they are under symptom surveillance. If you have plans to travel on a commercial flight during the monitoring period, please consult with OPH before traveling.
What should I do if I think I have monkeypox?
Anyone with concerns that they have been infected should refrain from intimate or close personal contact with others and seek medical attention. If you do not have a healthcare provider, you can visit a parish health unit near you. Locate a parish health unit in your area at ldh.la.gov/phu. Laboratory testing for monkeypox is now widely available through reference laboratories in addition to the state public laboratory.
What treatments are available for monkeypox?
Antivirals, such as tecovirimat (TPOXX), may be recommended for people with severe disease or who are more likely to get severely ill, like patients with weakened immune systems.
What should I do if I’m waiting for test results or test positive?
If you are waiting for test results or test positive, continue to refrain from intimate or close personal contact with others until the rash has fully healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed.
- Self-isolate to your home except as required for follow-up medical
- Take a break from sex and going out to bars, gyms, clubs, and other
- Skin lesions should be covered to the best extent possible (e.g., long sleeves, long pants) to minimize risk of contact with
- When possible, isolate in a room or area separate from other family members and pets. This is especially important if you have extensive lesions that cannot be easily covered, draining/weeping lesions, or respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, sore throat, runny nose).
- Disposable gloves should be worn for direct contact with lesions and disposed of after
- Household members who are not ill should limit contact with the person who is ill and avoid skin to skin contact, including sexual Use particular care in avoiding contact with household members who are immune compromised, pregnant, or under the age of 18.
- Wear a surgical mask, especially if you have respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath, sore throat). If this is not feasible (e.g., if the ill person is a child), other household members should consider wearing a surgical mask when in the presence of the ill
- Avoid contact with animals, including pets. Other household members should care for pets when
- Think about the people you have had close, personal, or sexual contact within the last 21 days, including people you met through dating apps. You might be asked to share this information if you have received a monkeypox diagnosis, to help stop the
People with monkeypox who do not require hospitalization should isolate at home. CDC Guidance for Isolation at Home: https://www.cdc.gov/poxvirus/monkeypox/clinicians/infection-control-home.html
Standard household cleaners and detergents are effective at cleaning environmental surfaces and linens.
Hand hygiene and cleaning procedures in homes where someone has tested positive for monkeypox
- Hand hygiene (i.e., hand washing with soap and water or use of an alcohol-based hand rub) should be used by ill people and their household contacts after touching lesion material, clothing, linens, or environmental surfaces that may have had contact with lesion material.
- Laundry (e.g., bedding, towels, clothing) may be washed in a standard washing machine with warm water and detergent; bleach may be added but is not
- Care should be used when handling soiled laundry to avoid direct contact with contaminated material.
- Soiled laundry should not be shaken or otherwise handled in a manner that may disperse infectious particles.
- Dishes and other eating utensils should not be It is not necessary for the ill person to use separate utensils if properly washed. Soiled dishes and eating utensils should be washed in a dishwasher or by hand with warm water and soap.
- Contaminated surfaces should be cleaned and Standard household cleaning/disinfectants may be used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
- See general guidance on cleaning and disinfecting non-healthcare settings such as homes and cars where an individual with monkeypox spent significant time.
There are vaccines that are licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that can prevent monkeypox infection, either before an exposure or after an exposure if the vaccine is given very soon after the exposure. CDC and LDH recommend vaccination for people who have been diagnosed with or exposed to monkeypox and people who are at higher risk of being exposed to monkeypox, including:
- People who have been identified by public health officials as a contact of someone with monkeypox
- People who may have been exposed to monkeypox as identified by public health officials
- People whose jobs may expose them to orthopoxviruses, such as:
- Laboratory workers who perform testing for orthopoxviruses
- Laboratory workers who handle cultures or animals with orthopoxviruses
- Some designated healthcare or public health workers
Eligibility for monkeypox vaccination may change as the outbreak evolves and based on vaccine supply. If you were exposed to monkeypox and would like to receive vaccine, please see a healthcare provider who can contact the Office of Public Health if vaccine is warranted.