Monkeypox spreads through close contact. You should see a doctor if you think you have it.

Monkeypox Local Health Emergency Declared

On July 28, 2022, the San Francisco Public Health Director issued a local public health emergency for Monkeypox to harness resources, including efforts to obtain additional vaccine supply. This will also allow DPH and other health providers to prepare for an increase in cases and direct resources to testing, treatment, vaccination, and community awareness.

Declaration of Local Health Emergency Regarding the Outbreak of the Monkeypox Virus

San Francisco to Declare Local Public Health Emergency for Monkeypox 


Monkeypox often begins as flu-like symptoms. It also appears as a distinctive rash or sores or spots that can look like pimples or blisters on the skin anywhere on the body, especially in the genital area. Spots can also be inside the rectum or butt, on fingers, or in the mouth or eyes.

Generally, the spots start as red, flat spots, and then become bumps. Those bumps then become filled with fluid which turns to pus. The pus bump then breaks and crusts over into a scab. The scabs may be itchy.

Some people never get a rash. They may have a fever, or swollen glands or muscle aches. Some people get a rash and other symptoms together. Or one after the other.  And for some people, symptoms start with a fever and only two or three spots.   

Some people have also reported pain or discomfort inside their rectum. 

Images of Monkeypox

Monkeypox can look different in different stages. Find out more about Monkeypox symptoms on the CDC website.

images of monkeypox rash
“Monkeypox rash” by NHS England High Consequence Infectious Diseases Network

How it Spreads

Monkeypox spreads through prolonged skin to skin contact. Contact includes:

  • sex
  • kissing
  • breathing at very close range
  • sharing bedding and clothing

If you have sex or close physical contact with many people you have a higher chance of getting monkeypox.

Monkeypox can be serious, though most cases resolve on their own. You should see a doctor right away if you think you have been exposed. 

Staying Safe

If you think you might be at risk you can:

  • Cover exposed skin in crowds
  • Don’t share bedding or clothing
  • Talk to anyone you've had sex or close contact with about their health
  • Stay aware if traveling

If you have symptoms:

  • Cover the area of the rash with clean, dry, loose-fitting clothing
  • Wear a well-fitted mask
  • Avoid skin-to-skin, or close contact with others
  • Talk to a healthcare provider as soon as possible
  • Stay away from other people
  • Let sex partners know about any symptoms you have

Monkeypox Vaccine

Vaccine supplies are limited. Get more information on the monkeypox vaccine

Notice of Exposure

If you got a notice that you might have been exposed, think about your contact with other people at the event.

If you had close, physical contact with others at an event (like kissing or sex) you are at high risk of direct exposure. You should get a monkeypox vaccine within 14 days to prevent an infection (the sooner the better!).   

If you were at the event and did not have close, physical contact with others, you may not need a vaccine. Look for symptoms of monkeypox and talk to your healthcare provider.


If you have a rash, or spots, your heathcare provider or a clinic an test you for monkeypox. They will rub a swab on the spots and send the swab to a lab for testing.

Your healthcare provider may also do blood tests at the same time.  We run a blood test to look for infections that can look like monkeypox, like syphilis. 

While you are waiting for your test results you should:

  • Stay away from other people
  • Don't use public transportation
  • Get in touch with people you've had sex or close contact with and ask them to get tested


Most people get well from monkeypox without needing any medicines or other treatment.

There is no medicine that the FDA has approved for monkeypox infection treatment.  

However, there is one medicine that is used for severe monkeypox, called tecovirimat, or TPOXX. It is allowed as an “investigation” drug for special circumstances for people who have severe monkeypox. 

Right now, we only have a few TPOXX pills available. Talk to your doctor if you think you might need TPOXX because of a special condition or severe disease.

If you need TPOXX, your doctor will work with the health department, or other providers to get you TPOXX.


If you do not have a healthcare provider, or can't get an appointment, go to either:

  • SF City Clinic at 7th Street San Francisco (628-217-6600)
  • Strut located 470 Castro Street (415-581-1600)

Frequently Asked Questions

Outreach toolkit

Last updated August 11, 2022

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