Mpox (monkeypox) is a viral infection, with symptoms that can include a painful and uncomfortable rash or sores, often accompanied with flu-like illness. mpox can result in severe disease requiring hospitalization particularly in persons with other health conditions or those who are immunocompromised. The virus is part of the same family of viruses that causes smallpox, and symptoms are similar to smallpox symptoms, but milder. Mpox is not related to chickenpox. Anyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, can get mpox through close, personal contact with someone who has symptoms of mpox. However, data suggests that the virus has primarily spread among social networks of gay, bisexual, and same gender-loving men through intimate contact. Risk is especially high for same gender-loving men who have multiple or anonymous sexual partners.
Current Chicago case totals can be found at the CDPH Mpox Data Dashboard
What You Should Know
- Mpox (monkeypox) is spread through close contact with body fluids, sores, shared bedding or clothing, or respiratory droplets (kissing, coughing, sneezing).
- The JYNNEOS™ vaccine can help protect people against mpox and is recommended for sexually active bisexual, gay, and other same-gender loving men, transgender persons, AND anyone who has had close contact with someone diagnosed with mpox regardless of sex, gender, or sexual orientation.
- Common symptoms: Rash or unusual sores that look like pimples or blisters on the face, body, and genitals, fever, chills, head or muscle aches, or swelling of lymph nodes.
- Clinicians: Please refer to our Chicago Health Alert Network for additional information including specimen collection and infection prevention guidance.
How it Spreads
Mpox (monkeypox) spreads from person to person in different ways. The main way it is currently spreading is through direct contact with a rash or sore on someone infected with mpox. It can also spread through clothing, bedding/linens, or other materials used by a person infected with mpox, or through respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact.
Spread can occur during intimate activities, including:
- Oral, anal, and vaginal sex.
- Hugging, kissing, and cuddling.
- Contact with bedding or other items that have the virus on them during or after intimate activity.
We currently believe that mpox spreads from the time symptoms start until the rash has fully healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed. This typically takes about 2-4 weeks. At this time, it is not known if mpox can spread through saliva, semen, or vaginal fluids.