MPX FAQ

Frequently asked questions about MPX (previously known as Monkeypox)

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

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

    • More information on vaccine eligibility can be found here: https://sf.gov/information/mpox-vaccine

  • Monitor for symptoms 
     
  • Let partners know you have been exposed 
     
  • 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 MPX spreads, but how does it not spread?  

  • MPX is not nearly as contagious as COVID-19.
  • It does not spread by casual conversation, or walking by someone with MPX 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 MPX?

  • Condoms during sex are an important way to protect yourself and others from HIV and other STIs like gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis.  

  • Condoms (latex or polyurethane) may protect your anus (butthole), mouth, penis, or vagina from exposure to MPX. However, condoms alone may not prevent all exposures to MPX since the rash can occur on other parts of the body and because MPX can be spread through skin-to-skin touching of sores and through direct face-to-face contact like licking or kissing or coughing in someone’s face.  

Should I wear a condom after sores and spots have healed?

If you or your partner(s) have any of the following conditions, you should consider wearing a condom for 8 to 12 weeks after you’ve been diagnosed with MPX:   

  • You or your partner(s) are undergoing fertility treatment or planning pregnancy   

  • You have an immunocompromised sexual partner(s) (including a pregnant partner)    

  • Talk to your healthcare provider if you are undergoing planned semen storage (for example prior to chemotherapy)   

  • You are concerned about transmission to a sexual partner or partners for any other reason  

  • Talk to your healthcare provider if you are concerned 

And keep in mind that:  

  • It’s still not clear for sure yet whether the MPX virus found in semen can actually cause infection, and   

  • using a condom by itself will not prevent the spread of MPX when a person has symptoms (before skin lesions have healed)  

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

  • The smallpox vaccine can protect you from getting MPX, however the immunity does wane over time. Most people have not gotten the smallpox vaccine recently enough to be considered protected.   
  • If it has been more than 3 years since your smallpox vaccine, you should think about getting vaccinated again with Jynneos.

Who is eligible for a Jynneos vaccine in San Francisco?

  • Gay or bisexual men, or any man or trans person who has sex with men or trans people  
  • Sex workers of any sexual orientation or gender identity 
  • Persons of any age and any gender who have had close contact within the past 14 days with someone with suspected or confirmed MPX  
  • 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 MPX 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 MPX virus testing 
  • Clinicians who have had a high-risk occupational exposure (e.g., examined MPX lesions or collected MPX specimens without using recommended personal protective equipment) 

How does San  Francisco administer the MPX vaccine?

With MPX vaccines still in short supply, San Francisco Department of Public Health clinics have moved to an alternative technique of giving doses. The technique, known as “intradermal,” injects the vaccine between the top layers of skin. Human skin has specialized and very strong immune cells. Intradermal vaccination is approved by federal and state regulators. Giving intradermal vaccinations is a safe and effective way to manage limited vaccine supplies so that more people can be vaccinated.  

The intradermal technique uses less vaccine with each dose and still causes as strong an immune response as the subcutaneous technique of injecting below the skin.

Intradermal vaccination techniques are used for protection against other infectious diseases, and are commonly used in other countries. 

SFDPH has instructed vaccination providers to begin using the intradermal method on adults effective August 22, 2022. 

The vaccine clinic at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and public health-operated clinics across the city will be using the intradermal method. 

 

How do you test for MPX?  

  • You must have a rash, or spots, to get a MPX test.  
  • The MPX 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 MPX testing.
  • When testing for MPX, your health care provider may recommend testing for other sexually transmitted infections. Syphilis and herpes are much more common than MPX – they appear similar and should be treated too.  
  • 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 

    • Avoid public transportation if possible, and if you must leave your home, wear a well-fitting mask and be sure to cover all lesions, including on your hands. You may use soft bandages for lesions that are not covered by clothes or gloves

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

Is there treatment for MPX?

  • Most people get well from MPX without needing any medicines or other treatment.
     
  • There is no medicine that the FDA has approved for MPX infection treatment.
      
  • However, there is one medicine that is used for severe MPX, called tecovirimat, or TPOXX. It is allowed as an “investigation” drug for special circumstances for people who have severe MPX.
     
  • Right now, the ability to get TPOXX is limited. 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 MPX and who is at risk?

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

Here is what to look out for:   

  • any MPX 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 MPX 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 MPX.  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 MPX, it may take 1 to 2 weeks for a person to have symptoms of MPX.
  • People are not spreading MPX during the time before symptoms appear.

How long is an infected person contagious?

  • You are able to spread MPX 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 MPX spots 
  • This can take 2 to 4 weeks 

Can I get MPX over and over again?

  • If you have been sick with MPX, your body may be able to prevent you getting sick with MPX 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 MPX but was not able to get vaccinated, should I get vaccinated once I have recovered?

  • If you have been diagnosed with MPX recently and are generally healthy, at this time it is not recommended by CDC nor by CDPH to get vaccinated.   

  • Importantly, a MPX infection itself confers immunity and provides protection against future infection.  

  • While vaccine supplies are limited, vaccines are prioritized for people at risk who have not been infected and therefore have no protection.  

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 MPX
     
  • 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 MPX.  (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 MPX?

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a list of approved cleaning solutions, or disinfectants for MPX. 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 MPX. The list of approved products can be found on the EPA website.

According to the CDC, if you have MPX you should clean and disinfect the spaces you are in regularly to prevent the spread of MPX 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 MPX 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 MPX can be found here.

Can kids get this infection?

  • Anyone can get MPX
     
  • 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 live in a household and/or share close, small spaces like a bedroom or a shared 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 MPX or MPX 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 MPX, and we do not know enough yet about whether dogs and cats can get MPX
       
  • 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 https://www.cdc.gov/poxvirus/monkeypox/specific-settings/pets-in-homes.html.   

How can we protect ourselves while traveling?

At this time, MPX is rare and considered a low threat to the general public. Almost everyone who gets MPX gets infected from having a lot of skin-to-skin or face-to-face contact, such as kissing and sex with someone who has MPX 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 MPX 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 MPX 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).

For more information, go to: cdc.gov/monkeypox

Last updated September 21, 2022