Mpox (formally known as monkeypox) is a virus that usually causes a mild illness and a characteristic rash. Symptoms may start with a flu-like illness including fever, headache, muscle aches, exhaustion, and swollen lymph nodes. A rash typically develops within 1-3 days. The rash can occur on any part of the body including the genital region. The rash typically changes from red spots to red bumps to blisters to pustules (pus-filled blisters) before scabbing over and resolving. Rectal pain has been associated with mpox in some recent cases. In rare cases, the illness may become severe requiring hospitalization. Deaths have not been reported from recent outbreaks. Mpox infection can last 2-4 weeks.
Signs and Symptoms
Consider mpox if you have a new rash, bumps or blisters, and any of the following conditions:
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Muscle aches and backache
- Rectal pain
- Respiratory symptoms (for example, sore throat, nasal congestion, or cough)
Sometimes people have flu-like symptoms before the rash. Some people get a rash first, followed by other symptoms. Others only experience a rash.
If You Were Exposed to Mpox
If a personal contact or someone from CDPHE has informed you of having close contact with a person with mpox you should take steps to protect yourself and others. Transmission of mpox is thought to occur via large respiratory droplets requiring prolonged face-to-face exposure, or direct contact with bodily fluid or sores. Many of the recent cases have been attributed to sexual or other intimate contact. Transmission may also occur through indirect contact, such as through clothing or linens that have been in contact with mpox sores.
Incubation, the time from being exposed to getting sick, is typically 1-2 weeks, but may be up to 3 weeks. Contact a provider & ask for testing if you have symptoms. If you develop a new rash, bumps or blisters, avoid close contact such as sex, keep covered up, and wear a high-quality medical mask when around others until you get checked out.
Prevent the Spread of Mpox
Mpox is typically transmitted through close, sustained physical contact.
- Get vaccinated
- Talk to your partners about any possible symptoms
- Avoid close contact with individuals reporting symptoms
- Take a break from close contact activities until two weeks after your second vaccine dose
- Avoid intimate communal areas such as back rooms, saunas, sex clubs or private sex parties
- Condoms may not prevent all exposures but can reduce the risk of exposure
- Masturbate together at a distance without physical contact
- Wash your hands, fetish gear, sex toys and any fabrics after sex
- Wear a mask if you are in contact with someone displaying symptoms
Please visit the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment's (CDPHE) website for a testing location map and information about where to get tested for mpox (monkeypox).
In most cases, mpox is mild and heals without treatment. In more severe cases, antiviral medications may be used. Tecovirimat, also known as TPOXX, is the most commonly used antiviral medicine for mpox.
Vaccination is a tool to prevent the spread of mpox. Some people who have been recently exposed to mpox, or are at high risk for exposure, should get a vaccine called Jynneos. The FDA has fully approved this vaccine.
Getting vaccinated lowers your chance of getting mpox if you may have been exposed. The sooner an exposed person gets the vaccine, the better. The vaccine can also reduce the severity of your symptoms if you do end up with mpox. People who already have symptoms of mpox (fever, rash, etc.) should not get vaccinated.
The mpox vaccine is free for those who qualify. No ID or insurance is needed to get vaccinated. Anyone who meets these criteria should talk with a health care provider to determine whether vaccination is right for them.
Who can get vaccinated for mpox:
- Anyone (any sexual orientation or gender identity) who has had close physical contact with someone who has mpox in the last 14 days.
- Anyone (any sexual orientation or gender identity) who:
- Has multiple or anonymous sexual partners, or
- Has close physical contact with other people in a venue where anonymous or group sex may occur, or
- Was diagnosed with gonorrhea or syphilis in the past six months, or
- Is living with HIV, or
- Already uses or is eligible for HIV PrEP (medication to prevent HIV, e.g. Truvada or Descovy or Apretude), or
- Engages in commercial and/or transactional sex (e.g. sex in exchange for money, shelter, food, and other goods or needs).
- Anyone (any sexual orientation or gender identity) identified by public health as a known high-risk contact of someone who has mpox.
- Anyone whose sexual partner identifies with any of the above scenarios.
Where to get vaccinated for mpox (monkeypox)
- CDPHE mpox mobile vaccination clinics and vaccine provider map
- Denver Sexual Health Clinic
- Immunization Clinic