Monkeypox

What you should know.

Monkeypox is a viral disease not often seen in the United States.

It can cause a rash that looks like bumps, blisters or ulcers. Some people have flu-like illness before the rash develops.

Anyone can get monkeypox. The virus spreads during close, physical contact.

Most people recover in 2–4 weeks, but the disease can be serious, especially for children and people who are immune compromised or pregnant.

Are you a health care provider? Visit our Monkeypox Information for Providers page.

The United States is experiencing an outbreak.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is tracking the outbreak.

Anyone who has close contact with a person who has monkeypox is at risk. Men who have sex with men may be at higher risk because the virus is spreading in these communities.

Before the current outbreak, nearly all monkeypox cases outside Africa were linked to travel to countries where the disease commonly occurs or imported animals.

What are the symptoms?

Monkeypox can cause a rash that looks like bumps, blisters or ulcers. Before the rash, some people have flu-like symptoms, like:

  • Fever.
  • Headache.
  • Muscle aches and backache.
  • Swollen lymph nodes.
  • Chills.
  • Exhaustion.

If you have a new rash or sores or other symptoms:

  • Avoid sex or intimate contact.
  • See your healthcare provider. Remind them monkeypox may be circulating in the community.

How does it spread?

Monkeypox spreads through contact with:

  • Monkeypox rash, sores or scabs.
  • Objects, fabrics or surfaces a person with monkeypox used.
  • Respiratory droplets or oral fluids from a person with monkeypox.

Monkeypox can spread as soon as symptoms start until all sores heal and a fresh layer of skin forms. This can be several weeks.

Learn more in CDC’s monkeypox fact sheet and CDC’s safe gathering recommendations.

Treatment and vaccination.

No specific treatment for monkeypox exists. Healthcare providers may prescribe antiviral medicine for people who are at high risk of severe disease.

The monkeypox and smallpox viruses are similar. Antiviral drugs and vaccines developed to protect against smallpox may be used to treat and prevent monkeypox.

People exposed to monkeypox virus who have not had smallpox vaccine in the last 3 years should consider getting vaccine.

On June 28, 2022, Department of Health and Human Services announced a new vaccine strategy to help slow the spread of monkeypox in at-risk communities. We are working with Washington State Department of Health (DOH) to coordinate those efforts.

Questions?

Questions? Contact Whatcom County Health Department at 360-778-6100

  • Contacting The Health Department.
    • 360-778-6100 Main Call Line – available M-F 8:30am to 4:30pm.
      • Afterhours Answering Service – available after 4:30pm and weekends, call 360-778-6100 and press 2 to be connected to the on-call manager or health officer.
    • 360-778-6150 Communicable Disease Report Line – 24 hours a day 7 days a week
    • 360-778-6103 Confidential Communicable Disease Fax – 24 hours a day 7 days a week
    • 509 Girard Street, Bellingham WA 98225

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