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Signs You Have Monkeypox, Says the CDC

Here's what to watch for.

On Sunday, President Biden said that "everybody should be concerned" about monkeypox, a rare disease that has popped up in several countries, including the U.S. and Canada. But what is monkeypox, and how do you know you have it? Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


What Is Monkeypox?

Monkeypox virus test results document

Monkeypox is a disease caused by the monkeypox virus. Health experts are investigating several clusters of monkeypox in the United States that have been reported this month. "it is something that everybody should be concerned about," President Biden said on Sunday. "We're working on it hard to figure out what we do and what vaccine, if any, may be available for it," he continued. "But it is a concern in the sense that if it were to spread, it's consequential."


Signs You Have Monkeypox

Woman being sick having flu lying on sofa looking at temperature on thermometer. Sick woman lying in bed with high fever.

According to the CDC, these are the first symptoms of monkeypox:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Backache
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Chills
  • Exhaustion

One to three days after a fever begins, a person with monkeypox develops a rash that often starts on the face and spreads to the rest of the body. Lesions ultimately scab over and fall off. The illness can last two to four weeks. In Africa, where the disease is most often seen, about 10% of cases are fatal.


How Do You Catch Monkeypox?

people shaking hands at office

Monkeypox is spread by coming into contact with a person or animal who has the virus, or items that are contaminated with it. The virus can enter the body through broken skin, the respiratory tract, or mucous membranes like the eyes, nose, or mouth. "Human-to-human transmission is thought to occur primarily through large respiratory droplets," says the CDC. "Respiratory droplets generally cannot travel more than a few feet, so prolonged face-to-face contact is required."


Is There a Vaccine?

Male doctor holding monkeypox vaccine.

The smallpox vaccine is considered 85 percent effective against monkeypox, the CDC says. A specific monkeypox vaccine also exists. There are no recommendations yet about vaccination.

"This is not a new virus to us. We've known about this virus for decades," Ashish Jha, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, said on ABC News's "This Week." "This is a virus we understand. We have vaccines against it. We have treatments against it … It's not as contagious as COVID. So I am confident we're going be able to keep our arms around it."


What is the Risk?

Scientist pipetting sample into vial for DNA testing

Tom Inglesby, the director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, told the Washington Post that the risk to the general public from monkeypox was "very, very low." And to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor. Read more about Michael
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