Monkeypox

Monkeypox is a rare but potentially serious viral illness. In recent months, monkeypox has been spreading in areas where the virus is not typically found, including the United States and Wisconsin.

For current case counts, visit:

Current risk to Winnebago County residents is LOW (updated 8/8/22).

Contact a doctor immediately if you develop any unexpected skin lesions or rashes or were exposed to someone with a probable or confirmed case of monkeypox. 

 

Symptoms of monkeypox can include:

  • A rash that can look like pimples or blisters that appears on the face, inside the mouth, and on other parts of the body, like the hands, feet, chest, genitals, or anus.
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches and backache
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Chills
  • Exhaustion
  • Respiratory symptoms (e.g. sore throat, nasal congestion, or cough)

Monkeypox symptoms usually start within 3 weeks of exposure to the virus. If someone has flu-like symptoms, they will usually develop a rash 1-4 days later. The rash goes through different stages before healing completely. The illness typically lasts 2-4 weeks. Sometimes, people get a rash first, followed by other symptoms. Others only experience a rash.

The current strain is rarely deadly, however the symptoms can be extremely painful and may cause scarring. People with weakened immune systems, children under 8 years of age, people with a history of eczema, and people who are pregnant or breastfeeding may be more likely to get very sick or die.

 

How it Spreads:

Monkeypox does not spread easily and is mostly spread through close, sustained contact with someone who has monkeypox. People usually become infected with monkeypox:

  • By having direct contact with the skin lesions or body fluids of an infected person,
  • Through sharing items, such as bedding or clothing of an infected person (that haven't been disenfected), or
  • Through prolonged exposure to an infected person's respiratory secretions.

Monkeypox can spread from the time symptoms start until the rash has fully healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed. Anyone can develop and spread monkeypox after being exposed to the virus and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are closely monitoring for monkeypox in the United States. Based on the current outbreak, certain populations are being affected by monkeypox more than others. Data from CDC shows that the virus is impacting some members of the LGBTQ community, with a higher impact among men who have sex with men as well as transgender and nonbinary individuals. Given this, the CDC is focusing on identifying and using specific channels that will directly reach gay and bisexual men across racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, and geographic backgrounds. In addition to this focused messaging, the CDC is also providing information to a wider audience about symptoms and the behaviors that can lead to the spread of monkeypox.

Pregnant people can also spread the virus to their fetus through the placenta. Monkeypox can also be spread to people from animals through bites, scratches, preparation of wild game, and direct or indirect contact with the body fluids of an infected animal.

Scientists are still researching:
  • If the virus can be spread when someone has no symptoms.
  • How often monkeypox is spread through respiratory secretions, or when a person with monkeypox symptoms might be more likely to spread the virus through respiratory secretions.
  • Whether monkeypox can be spread through semen, vaginal fluids, urine, or feces.

 

Treatment:

While most people who have monkeypox recover without needing treatment within two to four weeks, there are effective treatments for people with severe monkeypox.

antiviral medications that have been used to treat smallpox, such as tecovirimat (TPOXX), may be recommended for people who are more likely to get severely ill, like patients with weakened immune systems.

People who have been exposed to someone with monkeypox may be eligible to receive a vaccine to help prevent the onset of disease. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services will work with healthcare providers to obtain vaccines and treatment when necessary.

If you have symptoms of monkeypox, you should talk to your healthcare provider, even if you don’t think you had contact with someone who has monkeypox.

 

Vaccination:

Two smallpox vaccines licensed by the FDA are available to prevent monkeypox: JYNNEOS, also known as Imvamune or Imvanex, and ACAM2000.

However, due to a limited vaccine supply, DHS is currently following the federal government’s recommendation to prioritize the JYNNEOS vaccine for individuals at the highest risk of infection.

In Wisconsin, vaccination is now recommended for people 18 years and older who had known exposure to someone with monkeypox and people with certain risk factors who are more likely to be exposed to the virus. This includes:

  • People who know that a sexual partner in the past 14 days was diagnosed with monkeypox.
  • People who attended an event or venue where there was known monkeypox exposure.
  • Gay men, bisexual men, trans men and women, any men who have sex with men, and gender non-conforming/non-binary individuals, who have had multiple sexual partners in the last 14 days.

CDC recommends that the vaccine be given within 4 days from the date of exposure for the best chance to prevent onset of the disease.

Click here for frequently asked questions about the monkeypox vaccine.

Click here for more information about vaccination in Wisconsin (Source: Wisconsin Department of Health Services)

 

To prevent the spread of monkeypox:

  • Know the symptoms and risk factors of monkeypox.
  • Avoid skin-to-skin contact with people who are showing a rash or skin sores. Don’t touch the rash or scabs, and don’t kiss, hug, cuddle, have sex, or share items such as eating utensils or bedding with someone with monkeypox.
  • If you were recently exposed to the virus, contact a doctor or nurse to talk about whether you need a vaccine to prevent disease. Monitor for symptoms for 21 days after your date of last exposure. It is important to check your temperature two times per day during your monitoring period. If symptoms begin, contact a doctor immediately and avoid contact with others until you receive health care. Click here for a form to help monitor for symptoms.
  • If you are sick with monkeypox, isolate at home and away from people or pets you live with until: 
      • The rash has fully resolved,
      • Scabs have fallen off, AND
      • A fresh layer of intact skin has formed.
  • In jurisdictions with known monkeypox spread, participating in activities with close, personal, skin-to-skin contact may pose a higher risk of exposure.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

 

Additional Resources:

 

Monkeypox Facts