How Do You Get Monkeypox?


Recent increases in monkeypox infections have sparked concerns over public health, but did you know this disease is highly treatable?

More than 90% of infected people fully recover without long-term symptoms, especially when they get timely and appropriate treatment.

That’s why it’s important to understand what to do if you get infected, to ensure you take proper care of your overall health.

In this article, we’ll look at the different causes of monkeypox, how the disease is treated, and the steps you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones from infection.

What is Monkeypox?

Monkeypox — or the mpox virus — is a rare illness caused by the Orthopoxvirus. While it usually affects animals, it can also spread to people.

This illness primarily occurs in central and West African countries, but outbreaks have occurred in other parts of the world due to international travel and imported animals.

Monkeypox disease can occasionally be fatal, but only in rare cases. Most infected people experience mild to moderate symptoms that resolve with at-home treatment.

Monkey pox symptoms

If you’ve been infected with monkeypox, you will start developing symptoms within one to two weeks of exposure to the virus.

Symptoms can last for two to four weeks, and you may experience the following:

  • Fever

  • Intense headache

  • Swollen lymph nodes

  • Fatigue

  • Muscle aches

  • Rash that looks like raised spots, which will turn into blisters filled with fluid

  • Chills

  • Exhaustion

  • Respiratory symptoms, like a sore throat, nasal congestion, or cough

Key Point: Who is Most at Risk of Developing Monkeypox?

Although monkeypox can affect anyone who comes into contact with the virus, certain groups of people may be more at risk of contracting this illness.

This includes people who:

  • Have sexual contact with infected partners
  • Are in close contact with infected people
  • Touch contaminated surfaces, such as bedding, clothing, or towels
  • Are more exposed to an infected animal that may have monkeypox

Children are also more likely to develop severe symptoms as their immune systems are still developing and unborn babies face increased risks if their mothers contract monkeypox.

What Can Cause Monkeypox?

Close contact with an infected person

Human-to-human transmission of monkeypox primarily occurs through close physical contact with an infected person.

This includes touching the rash, scabs, or bodily fluids — such as pus or blood — from a person with monkeypox.

The virus can also spread through respiratory droplets during prolonged face-to-face interactions or intimate physical contact, such as kissing, cuddling, or sexual activities.

Touching contaminated surfaces

Objects that have come into contact with the virus can also be a source of infection, as the pathogen can survive outside the body for up to 15 days.

These surfaces can include bedding, clothing, towels, or other objects contaminated with fluids or sores from an infected person or animal.

Contact with infected animals

The monkeypox virus has been found in various animal species, including rodents and primates.

People can be infected through contact with these animals, including:

  • Through bites or scratches

  • Eating meat from animals infected with the disease

  • Touching an infected animal's blood, bodily fluids, or skin lesions

The risk of contracting monkeypox from animals also increases if you buy meat from places that do not follow proper sanitary protocols.

How is Monkeypox Diagnosed?

The diagnosis of monkeypox requires both clinical evaluation and laboratory tests to determine if you’ve been infected.

These steps can also help doctors rule out similar illnesses — like chickenpox or the human smallpox disease — and recommend appropriate treatment options.

Your doctor will typically follow this process when diagnosing you:

  • Clinical evaluation: This begins with a detailed medical history and physical examination. Your doctor will also look for the characteristic rash associated with monkeypox and ask you about your symptoms, travel history, or exposure to animals and individuals known to have monkeypox.

  • Laboratory testing: Depending on the outcome of your clinical evaluation, your doctor may order lab tests. These tests involve taking samples from skin lesions and testing them for the presence of monkeypox pathogens.

  • Imaging tests: In cases of severe infection, imaging tests like chest X-rays may be performed to determine your risk of additional complications.

  • Differential diagnosis: Because monkeypox can be similar to other diseases, your doctor will also consider other possible causes of your symptoms. Differential diagnoses may include other pox-like diseases, herpes viruses, syphilis, and bacterial skin infections.

Depending on the results of these tests, your doctor will diagnose your condition and give you advice on how to effectively treat and manage your symptoms.

What Are the Treatment Options for Monkeypox?

Antiviral medications

Antiviral medication is usually the primary treatment for monkeypox. Popular options include:

  • Tecovirimat (TPOXX): TPOXX is widely used for treating monkeypox and it works by inhibiting the growth of pathogens. This helps to slow its spread from infected to uninfected cells, which can alleviate your symptoms.

  • Other antivirals: Brincidofovir and cidofovir are two other antivirals that may be recommended to treat mpox. However, their use is limited due to concerns regarding side effects and efficacy.


Monkeypox vaccinations can help prevent repeat infections or decrease symptom severity if you are exposed to the virus again.

For people at high risk of contracting monkeypox, pre-exposure vaccinations — such as JYNNEOS or ACAM2000 — are recommended to prevent infection.

If you’ve been exposed to the disease, receiving a vaccination within four days can prevent the development of monkeypox. .

You can also get the monkeypox vaccine at any point if you want to ensure you are protected.

The monkeypox vaccine is a double-dose injection, meaning you’ll have to get it twice for the optimal protection.

It’s recommended to wait four weeks between your first and second dose.

Symptomatic treatment

You might experience uncomfortable symptoms if you’ve been infected with monkeypox. These are typically treated with OTC medications such as:

  • Pain relievers

  • Antihistamines

  • Topical rash treatments

  • Fever reducers

You can also speak to your doctor about prescription medication if your monkeypox symptoms are more severe or don’t resolve with OTC options.


To prevent the spread of monkeypox, your doctor may advise you to isolate yourself until your lesions have crusted over and the scabs have fallen off.

Isolation helps you to avoid close or direct contact with other people, reducing your risk of spreading monkeypox.

This process can last several weeks, so ensure that you are well-prepared before you go into isolation.

It’s not recommended for vulnerable people — such as the elderly or those with diseases that require caretakers — to isolate themselves, as this could put them in danger of injury or other health complications.

Can Monkeypox Be Prevented?

It’s possible to prevent a monkeypox infection by taking personal health measures, which may include:

  • Getting vaccinated before exposure to the virus, especially if you’re in a high-risk group like healthcare workers or laboratory personnel

  • Avoiding contact with infected individuals as much as possible

  • Avoiding contact with animals that may harbor the virus

  • Practicing good hand hygiene, including washing your hands regularly and using alcohol-based sanitizers

  • Using personal protective equipment (PPE) around people infected with monkeypox

Be sure to get tested for monkeypox if you start showing symptoms or you live in an area where there’s been an outbreak.

Although this doesn’t help prevent the disease, it can go a long way in avoiding spreading it to more people.

When Should You Consult Your Doctor About Monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a contagious disease, so it’s important to seek medical attention in the following circumstances:

  • If you are experiencing symptoms associated with monkeypox

  • If you suspect that you have been exposed to monkeypox

  • If you’ve recently traveled to regions where monkeypox is prevalent

  • If you’ve had close contact with a person confirmed to have monkeypox

  • If you or individuals around you have weakened immune systems, are pregnant, or have skin conditions like eczema

If you're unsure about your symptoms or suspect monkeypox, visit your doctor for early testing and treatment to prevent spreading the virus.

Where Can You Learn More About Monkeypox and Other Similar Conditions?

If you’re concerned about your symptoms or want to know more about treating monkeypox, LifeMD is here to help.

A team of medical professionals can assist you with information and provide guidance on managing a monkeypox infection while avoiding further complications.

Make an appointment with LifeMD today to learn more about monkeypox care — all from the comfort of your home.

LifeMD makes it easy to stay on top of your health because talking to a doctor, filling your prescriptions, getting your labs done—and more—are all easy and cost-effective. Come discover a healthcare solution built around you and your life.

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This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Consult a healthcare professional or call a doctor in the case of a medical emergency.

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