Monkeypox FAQ

Frequently asked questions about Monkeypox

I have been exposed to monkeypox. What should I do?  

  • Seek out a vaccine
    • If you are told by your partner that they have monkeypox, or someone contacts you to tell you that you were exposed, you should seek out a monkeypox vaccine to prevent an infection.  

    • Getting a vaccine soon after exposure – ideally within 4 days but up to 14 days after – can help prevent you from becoming infected with the monkeypox virus.

    • Additionally, we are prioritizing vaccines for gay, bisexual, and other men or trans people who have sex with men, and who have had more than one sexual partner in the last 14 days, as well as sex workers or any sexual orientation or gender identity. More information on vaccine eligibility can be found here:

  • Monitor for symptoms 
  • Let partners know you have been exposed 
  • Limit close physical contacts during this time 
  • Talk to your health provider if you have questions 
  • See a doctor or health provider as soon as possible if symptoms develop
    • People who are not connected to medical care can get care through Strut 

I know how monkeypox spreads, but how does it not spread?  

  • Monkeypox is not nearly as contagious as COVID-19.
  • It does not spread by casual conversation, or walking by someone with monkeypox in a grocery store. 
  • You need to have prolonged, physical contact or share bedding or clothing with someone who has the virus.

Will wearing a condom prevent people from getting monkeypox?

  • Condoms during sex are an important way to protect yourself and others from HIV and other STIs like gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis
  • We do not know yet whether condoms reduce the risk of getting or giving someone else monkeypox during sex.   
  • While we learn more about how the monkeypox virus is spread, we want everyone to know that monkeypox can be spread during any close physical contact, including sex, or by face-to-face coughing or sneezing, kissing, licking, skin to skin rubbing, or sharing or sex toys, bedding, towels, clothing, or utensils, among other ways.

If I had the smallpox vaccine, am I protected from monkeypox? 

  • Monkeypox and smallpox are in the same family of viruses.
  • According to the CDC, since monkeypox is closely related to the virus that causes smallpox, the smallpox vaccine can protect you from getting monkeypox.
  • However, if you have been exposed to monkeypox and it has been three years or more since your smallpox vaccine, you should think about getting a monkeypox vaccine. 

How do you test for monkeypox?  

  • You must have a rash, or spots, to get a monkeypox test.  
  • The monkeypox test is done on your skin with a swab at a clinic or health care provider. The swab is rubbed against spots on your skin, or parts of your rash, and then sent to a specialized lab for monkeypox testing.
  • A preliminary lab test result should be available in a few days. While you are waiting, be sure to take steps to care for yourself and others: 
    • Stay home and away from others 

    • Put off travel on public transportation 

    • Call, text, or contact your sex partners and people you have had close contact with since the start of your symptoms 

    • Protect any pets 

Is there treatment for Monkeypox?

  • 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.

What is severe monkeypox and who is at risk?

Most people get well from monkeypox without pills or treatment of any kind. But for some people monkeypox can be serious.    

Here is what to look out for:   

  • any monkeypox blisters or spots on or near your eyes

  • spots that spread all over your body or blend together

  • problems with bleeding or bruises all over

  • any trouble breathing, or thinking, or continuing to feel worse and not improving over time   

The groups of people who may be at higher risk for getting severe monkeypox include: 

  • children under age 8  

  • people who are pregnant 

  • people whose immune system is not as strong because of a disease, an infection or from taking medicines 

  • people with a history of eczema and other skin conditions  

  • If you are one of these groups of people, it is important to see your doctor early. You should call your doctor or clinic if you are worried you are getting severe monkeypox.  And you should seek care by calling 911 or going to a hospital emergency room in a health emergency. 

If I get infected, how long will it take me to get sick?   

  • After a person is infected with monkeypox, it may take 1 to 2 weeks for a person to have symptoms of monkeypox.
  • People are not spreading monkeypox during the time before symptoms appear.

How long is an infected person contagious?

  • You are able to spread monkeypox to other people from the start of your symptoms (like feeling like you have the flu) or the start of a rash, until all scabs have fallen off and new skin covers all the monkeypox spots 
  • This can take 2 to 4 weeks 

Can I get Monkeypox over and over again?

  • If you have been sick with monkeypox, your body may be able to prevent you getting sick with monkeypox again.
  • We are learning more, but we do not know how long your body’s protection, or immunity might last.

If I recently recovered from monkeypox but was not able to get vaccinated, should I get vaccinated once I have recovered?

  • We do not yet know whether people who recently had monkeypox and got well should get the vaccine after they recover. 
  • SFDPH will make sure the community and your healthcare provider know the latest information as we learn more about monkeypox.

What if my job involves touching people?

  • People with jobs or professions that have skin-to-skin contact with customers or clients should look at or visually inspect the area of skin that they are treating for signs of monkeypox
  • It is also important to ask your customer/client about whether they have any flu-like symptoms (such as a fever)
  • Do not touch anyone with flu-like symptoms or a rash that might be monkeypox.  (Flu-like symptoms can also be associated with COVID-19, which is another reason to ask your customers about how they are feeling before providing services.)   

What kind of cleaning products work against monkeypox?

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a list of approved cleaning solutions, or disinfectants for monkeypox. The list includes popular products that many people already use, such as Lysol and Clorox. In addition, the EPA has approved special product labeling for cleaning solutions to prevent monkeypox. The list of approved products can be found on the EPA website.

According to the CDC, if you have monkeypox you should clean and disinfect the spaces you are in regularly to prevent the spread of monkeypox to your family or household when you are staying home and staying away from others. This includes washing your bedding and towels. Do not shake them out.

Once you have gotten well from monkeypox and new skin has grown over all your monkeypox sores or spots, you should wipe down and clean your home as thoroughly as you can. The virus can live on surfaces such as bedding for as long as 15 days. More information and tips about cleaning during and after monkeypox can be found here.

Can kids get this infection?

  • Anyone can get monkeypox
  • Do not share a bed if you are feeling flu-like symptoms or you have a rash or spots
  • If you or others have symptoms and shared a bed with a child, please contact your doctor right away
  • Stay home, and stay away from other people in your home as much as you can, wear a mask and avoid close physical contact like kissing or hugging other people 

I have pets in my home and I have monkeypox or monkeypox symptoms.  How can I protect them? 

  • You should take steps, whenever possible, to protect everyone in your home, including your pets or companion animals 
  • We know that rodents can get monkeypox, and we do not know enough yet about whether dogs and cats can get monkeypox   
  • If you must take care of animals in your home, you should wear a mask, especially when you are touching or caring for your pet
  • You should also wear clothes that cover your skin (such as long sleeves and long pants)
  • You should wear gloves as much as possible, especially when feeding, petting or changing bedding, and you should thoroughly wash your hands before touching them
  • Try to avoid being face-to-face with your pets including licking or kissing, until you are healed, even if you are wearing a mask
  • More information about protecting animals in your home can be found online at   

How can we protect ourselves while traveling?

At this time, monkeypox is rare and considered a low threat to the general public. Almost everyone who gets monkeypox gets infected from having a lot of skin-to-skin or face-to-face contact, such as kissing and sex with someone who has monkeypox at a time when that person has symptoms and can spread it.

However, you should not sleep inside a hotel room that has not been cleaned after the previous people left.

There are reported cases of monkeypox in over 25 counties and the CDC recommends that travelers avoid close contact with sick people, as well as dead or live wild mammals. If you are traveling on a plane, avoid prolonged skin-to-skin contact, while sharing an armrest, for example. The good news is that monkeypox is not nearly as contagious as COVID-19.

How to get help if you don’t have a doctor:

If you do not have a provider, or have difficulty scheduling an appointment, you can be seen at Strut located 470 Castro Street (415-581-1600).

Screen regularly for sexually transmitted infections. Syphilis and herpes are much more common than monkeypox – they appear similar and should be treated too. 

For more information, go to:

Who is eligible for a Jynneos vaccine in San Francisco?

  • Gay, bisexual, and other men or trans people who have sex with men, who have had more than 1 sexual partner in the past 14 days  
  • Sex workers of any sexual orientation or gender identity 
  • Persons who have had close contact within the past 14 days with someone with suspected or confirmed monkeypox  
  • Persons who had close contact with others at a venue or event or within a social group in the past 14 days where a suspected or confirmed monkeypox case was identified. This includes persons who received notice from a venue or event of a potential exposure within the past 14 days 
  • Laboratory workers who routinely perform monkeypox virus testing 
  • Clinicians who have had a high-risk occupational exposure (e.g., examined monkeypox lesions or collected monkeypox specimens without using recommended personal protective equipment) 

Is the first dose of the Jynneos vaccine being prioritized?

SFDPH and vaccine partners will prioritize first dose of Jynneos vaccine to as many at-risk people as possible and will defer second dose appointments until sufficient supply is received. Given the rapid increase of cases and very limited number of vaccines, this strategy will allow more people to receive a dose. 

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Jynneos is indicated for prevention of smallpox and monkeypox disease in adults. However, since no vaccine is 100 percent effective, it is important for individuals to reduce their risk of potential exposures to monkeypox both before and after being vaccinated.  

SFDPH and vaccine partners will notify the community when vaccine supply is available for second doses to complete the vaccine series.  If a person receives one dose, a second dose can be administered without having to restart the series, even if the second dose is given after the minimum interval of four weeks. 

Last updated August 5, 2022

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