Monkeypox is spreading within the United States. Knowing the facts about this virus can help protect you and our Ohio Northern University community. The following are answers to pertinent questions pertaining to prevention and other practicalities:

What is monkeypox?

The human monkeypox is a viral disease caused by the monkeypox virus. The disease was first identified in humans in 1970 and had previously been an endemic disease in Africa. The current outbreak of monkeypox has been identified in at least 50 different countries

Is monkeypox deadly?

Monkeypox is typically not considered highly deadly although some deaths have been reported. A New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) article evaluating cases so far in the United States did not document any deaths in the U.S. The study reported about 13-15% of individuals were hospitalized mostly for pain management and dehydration.

Is monkeypox only transmitted through sexual contact?

No. Monkeypox can be transmitted by any close contact with infectious material or an infected person. So, sexual contact is a source of monkeypox transmission, but certainly not the only method of spread. Any close and sustained skin-to-skin contact can spread monkeypox.

Can anyone contract monkeypox?

Yes, anyone, regardless of sexual orientation, can be at risk of developing monkeypox with exposure to an infected individual. 

Can I get monkeypox from kissing or hugging?

Yes, monkeypox can be spread by close contact including respiratory droplets, kissing, or hugging. 

Can I get monkeypox from sheets, towels, and clothing?

Yes. It is important to avoid contact with objects and materials from an infected individual. 

How can I prevent monkeypox?

Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with people with a monkeypox infection, a rash, or exposure to monkeypox.

Avoid contact with objects and materials of a person with monkeypox.

Wash hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Wear protective clothing including long sleeves and pants. Covering skin to limit skin-to-skin contact is one barrier method. 

What are the recommendations for safer social interaction such as parties? Should I be concerned with crowded events?

The CDC has evidence that sustained skin-to-skin contact at social events has resulted in the spread of monkeypox. Please take into consideration activities and the risk of sustained, close personal contact.

What are the recommendations for safer sex practices?

Get vaccinated if and when you qualify.

Limit the number of sex partners.

Limit skin to skin contact.

Cover skin as much as possible with close encounters.

Consider use of a condom.

The CDC has more information on this topic:

Can condoms prevent monkeypox?

Condoms can NOT prevent monkeypox, but they may offer some level of protection from a genital lesion and infected semen. Condoms are recommended as part of safer sexual intimacy. 

Should condoms be used if someone has recovered from monkeypox?

There is evidence that the monkeypox virus can survive for a longer period of time in semen, so some countries are recommending the use of condoms for a minimum of 8 to 12 weeks after monkeypox recovery.

What are the symptoms of monkeypox?

The symptoms of monkeypox in the first few days will resemble COVID-19 and influenza (flu), so please get evaluated by a healthcare professional. The development of a rash or lesion will be the differentiating factor. Fever is often a first symptom. The NEJM study reported 62% had fever first before rash. Other symptoms may include:

  • Headache
  • Muscle aches and backache
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Chills
  • Sore throat, nasal congestion, and cough
  • A rash looking like a pimple or blister at the beginning and then becomes an open lesion with scabbing. The rash can appear on the face, hands, feet, chest, genitals, anus, or inside the mouth/throat.

How long after being exposed to monkeypox do symptoms occur?

The average number of days after exposure is on average seven days but can range from three to 20 days.

How long does monkeypox last if you develop the condition?

Monkeypox can be a very painful condition with lesions lasting two to four weeks before resolution. The lesion must heal completely to avoid transmission. Any open or scarred lesion is capable of releasing live virus. 

What should you do if you have symptoms?

Contact the ONU Health Center. Avoid close contact with other individuals and animals until you are evaluated or tested. 

When should someone get tested for monkeypox?

Testing to confirm monkeypox at this time is only available once lesions have occurred. A swab of the lesion would be sent to a lab. The ONU Health Center has resources to send swabs to a certified lab for confirmation of monkeypox. 

What if I have a positive test?

Stay isolated and other preventative practices until the rash and lesions are completely healed. Wear clothing that would cover the rash and wear a well-fitting mask if you need to leave isolation. Follow all healthcare providers and ONU Safety Policy recommendations.

What are the treatments for monkeypox?

Treatments for monkeypox are limited and in short supply and restricted in prescribing. Prevention is our best method. Healthcare providers need to be in contact with the health departments to start the process to obtain an antiviral tecovirimat (TPOXX). Other antivirals are being studied for potential benefit, but are currently not available.

Is there a vaccine for monkeypox? 

JYNNEOS is a combination vaccine for prevention of smallpox and monkeypox. The vaccine is in short supply and is being distributed through state health departments. The vaccine is a two-dose shot given 28 days apart. Contact ONU HealthWise Drug and Health Information Center at ext. 2307 or with any additional vaccine questions. 

If I have received a smallpox vaccine in the past, am I protected?

Since the smallpox virus and monkeypox virus are related, there is some protection with a previous smallpox vaccine. However, the protection from smallpox is not lifelong and it is still possible to get monkeypox even if you have had a smallpox vaccine. 

Who is eligible for the monkeypox vaccine? Who is at high risk?

The Ohio Health Department is offering a three-phase roll out of the monkeypox vaccine. Currently, only three Ohio cities are receiving vaccines including Columbus, Cleveland, and Cincinnati with the priority to give vaccines to those exposed to confirmed monkeypox. The second phase will involve distributing vaccines to high-risk groups. The third phase will provide vaccines to anyone who would like to receive the vaccine.

If you have been exposed to monkeypox, how soon should you receive the vaccine to prevent onset of the condition?

If you have a documented exposure to monkeypox, you should receive the vaccine from the health department within four days after exposure to have the best chance of preventing monkeypox. 

Are there medications available to treat monkeypox?

Treatments for monkeypox are limited and in short supply and restricted in prescribing. Prevention is our best method. Healthcare providers need to be in contact the health departments to start the process to obtain an antiviral tecovirimat (TPOXX). Other antivirals are being studied for potential benefit, but are currently not available. 

Can my pet get monkeypox?

Monkeypox is considered a zoonotic virus, meaning it can spread between animals and humans. Although rare, pets have developed monkeypox with human contact. Pets will be contagious and spread monkeypox to humans. If you have been exposed to monkeypox, avoid contact with animals and ask family or friends to take care of the pet until you have fully recovered. 

What symptoms would a pet have if infected with monkeypox?

Lethargy, lack of appetite, coughing, bloating, fever, eye or nasal secretions, or a pox lesion are symptoms for pets infected with monkeypox.

Who do I contact at ONU if I have questions about monkeypox?

Please contact the ONU Health Center for more information or any questions related to monkeypox. Phone (419) 772-2086, email, or website at