Monkeypox is a contagious disease caused by the monkeypox virus. There is currently an outbreak of monkeypox in the U.S. and other countries where the virus does not usually spread.
Anyone can get and spread monkeypox. The current cases are primarily spreading through sex and other intimate contact among social networks of gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM); transgender people; gender-nonconforming people; and nonbinary people. People in these social circles who have multiple or anonymous sex partners are at a high risk of exposure.
If you have a new or unexpected rash or sores, contact a health care provider.
In the current outbreak, the monkeypox virus is spreading mainly during oral, anal and vaginal sex and other intimate contact, such as rimming, hugging, kissing, biting, cuddling and massage.
The virus can spread through:
Experts are currently studying whether the virus can also spread through semen, saliva, feces and other body fluids.
People can spread the virus when they have symptoms. Experts are studying whether the virus can spread before symptoms start or after they end.
The best way to protect yourself from monkeypox is to avoid sex and other intimate contact with multiple or anonymous partners.
If you choose to have sex or other intimate contact, the following can help reduce your risk:
In the current outbreak, hospitalization and death from monkeypox are rare, but symptoms can still be painful and interfere with daily activities.
Symptoms usually start in three to 17 days. They can last for two to four weeks.
The most common symptom is a rash or sores that can look like pimples or blisters. These may be all over the body or just in certain parts, such as the face, hands or feet, as well as on or inside the mouth, genitals or anus. The rash and sores can be extremely itchy and painful, and sores in the anus or urethra can make it hard to go to the bathroom. Some people also have flu-like symptoms, such as sore throat, fever, swollen lymph nodes, headache and tiredness.
Complications can include inflammation of the lining of the rectum (proctitis), or sores that could result in scarring of the eye, mouth, anus or urethra.
We do not know if monkeypox causes long-term health problems.
If you have symptoms of monkeypox, you should see a health care provider for testing. If you do not have a provider, call 311 or search the NYC Health Map. You can only get tested for monkeypox if you are experiencing symptoms.
Testing involves a provider taking a swab of a sore. Only your provider — not the Health Department — can give you the test result.
If you start experiencing symptoms, even if they are mild, talk to your health care provider. If you do not have a health care provider, call 311 or search the NYC Health Map. A provider will check your symptoms and may order testing.
For more information on the precautions you should take to keep yourself and others safe, visit Monkeypox: What to Do When Sick.
For more information about monkeypox, call 311.