Monkeypox is an illness caused by the monkeypox virus. It’s related to smallpox but milder. It can cause a skin rash that can look like pimples or blisters on the face or body. It may also cause flu-like symptoms such as fever, exhaustion, and/or muscle aches, and swelling of the lymph nodes.
Monkeypox is found mostly in West and Central Africa. Recently, it’s spread to people in other countries, including the United States. Although most cases in the current outbreak to date have occurred among gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men, any person, regardless of sexual or gender identity, can become infected with monkeypox.
Monkeypox is primarily spread through close, personal, skin-to-skin contact, including:
A person with monkeypox can spread it to others from the time the symptoms start until the rash has fully healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed. The monkeypox illness typically lasts 2-4 weeks. People who do not have symptoms are not considered infectious.
Contact your healthcare provider if you think you’ve been exposed. You may be eligible for vaccination to reduce the risk of disease after an exposure if you live or work in Massachusetts and meet the current eligibility criteria. People are not recommended to be tested for monkeypox unless they have lesions consistent with monkeypox. Take precautionary measures if you have been exposed (but don’t have symptoms) for 21 days after exposure, including symptom monitoring and frequent hand hygiene.
Vaccination is currently limited across the state; however, it is available to individuals who live or work in Massachusetts and meet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) current eligibility criteria. The eligibility criteria includes:
If you have questions about your eligibility, contact your healthcare provider who will perform a risk and exposure assessment. If you are eligible for vaccination, you can make your own appointment. Please note that a written referral or letter outlining the eligibility from your healthcare provider is not required.
The JYNNEOS vaccine, or the vaccine for monkeypox, is not available at Atrius Health. However, it is available at other locations across the state to individuals who live or work in Massachusetts and meet the eligibility criteria.
If you are eligible under the criteria or your healthcare provider has determined that you eligible, please visit the Massachusetts DPH Monkeypox Vaccine page for a list of the vaccine clinic locations and their contact information. An appointment is required for these vaccine clinic locations.
Take the following steps to prevent getting monkeypox:
It’s not clearly known how much protection there is from a person’s smallpox vaccine received during childhood and whether it applies to this current outbreak. If you are eligible for the monkeypox vaccine based on your risk or meeting the eligibility criteria above, contact the state vaccine clinic locations.
People who have a clinical syndrome, including a rash that is consistent with monkeypox, can be tested at Atrius Health. Please note that only those who have a lesion or rash can be tested, and testing cannot be performed for people who do not have symptoms.
If you have had exposure to a person with known or suspected monkeypox, exposure to a person with a rash similar to your rash, or are a male who regularly has proximate physical, sexual, or other close contact with other men, you may be at increased risk and should be more strongly considered for testing.
If you have any of the above risks and a rash, you should reach out to your healthcare provider to decide if you should have testing.
Also, if someone has confirmed or suspected monkeypox symptoms that are severe and cannot be managed at home, please contact your healthcare provider for guidance.
About Monkeypox | CDC
Monkeypox Overview | MA Department of Public Health