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    A person with mpox, with a close-up of blisters on the skin.

    Mpox, previously known as monkeypox, is an infection caused by a virus. It starts with flu-like symptoms and then a rash that may look like pimples. The rash turns into blisters, which, over time, change into scabs.

    Mpox is contagious. This means that it spreads from person to person. It becomes contagious at the time the symptoms start. It remains contagious until the rash has healed and a new layer of skin has formed. You should stay away from other people during this time. It may take 2–4 weeks to recover from mpox.

    What are the causes?

    This condition is caused by the mpox virus. You may get the virus by:
    • Having direct contact with body fluids or the rash or scabs of an infected person.
    • Breathing in droplets from an infected person.
    • Touching something that has been used by a person with the virus, such as clothes, bedding, or towels.
    • Being bitten or scratched by an infected animal.

    The virus can also be passed to a fetus during pregnancy.

    What increases the risk?

    You are more likely to get this virus if:
    • You take care of a person with mpox.
    • You live in or travel to an area with cases of mpox.
    • You have sex with more than one person.
    • You are a man who has sex with men.

    What are the signs or symptoms?

    Symptoms of mpox may start within 3 weeks of being exposed to the virus. Symptoms can range from mild to severe, and may include:
    • Fever or chills.
    • Sore throat or cough.
    • Stuffy nose (nasal congestion).
    • Headache.
    • Muscle aches.
    • Swollen lymph nodes.
    • Rash on the face, mouth, genitals, anus, hands, or feet. The rash may hurt or itch.

    Other symptoms may include:
    • Weakness.
    • Pain or bleeding in the rectum.

    Most people with mpox get the rash. Some people only have the rash and no other symptoms.

    How is this diagnosed?

    This condition may be diagnosed based on:
    • Your signs and symptoms.
    • A physical exam.
    • Lab tests. Scabs or fluid from the rash will be collected for testing.
    • A blood test to check for mpox-specific antibodies. Antibodies are substances made by the body's defense system (immune system).

    How is this treated?

    Mild cases of mpox may be treated at home. Treatment may include:
    • Taking medicines. Medicines help to:
      • Reduce fever or pain.
      • Shorten the illness and make it less severe. An antiviral may be prescribed for people who are at risk for severe infection, such as those with weak body defense systems (immune systems).
      • Reduce itching.
    • Taking care of your skin.

    Serious symptoms may be treated in the hospital.

    Follow these instructions at home:


    An anti-itch cream being used to numb an itching area on the hand.
    • Take over-the-counter and prescription medicines only as told by your health care provider.
    • Use an anti-itch cream or numbing cream on the rash as told by your health care provider.
    • If you were prescribed an antiviral medicine, take it as told by your health care provider. Do not stop using the medicine even if you start to feel better.

    Relieving itching and discomfort

    • Apply cold, wet cloths (cold compresses) to the rash or blisters as told by your health care provider.
    • Take cool baths to soothe itching skin. Try adding baking soda, Epsom salts, or dry oatmeal to the water. Do not bathe in hot water.
    • If you have blisters in your mouth:
      • Do not eat or drink foods and beverages that are spicy, salty, or acidic. Soft, bland, and cold foods and beverages are easiest to swallow.
      • Gargle with a mixture of salt and water 3–4 times a day, or as needed. To make salt water, completely dissolve ½–1 tsp (3–6 g) of salt in 1 cup (237 mL) of warm water.

    Blister and rash care

    A person washing hands with soap and water.
    • Wear loose-fitting clothing. This will ease the pain of clothing rubbing against the rash.
    • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after touching the rash. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer.
    • Keep your rash and blisters clean. Wash the area with mild soap and cool water as told by your health care provider.
    • Check your rash every day for signs of infection. Check for:
      • More redness, swelling, or pain.
      • More fluid or blood coming from the blisters.
      • Warmth.
      • Pus or a bad smell.
    • Do not scratch your rash or pick at your blisters. To help prevent scratching:
      • Keep your fingernails short and clean.
      • Wear cotton gloves or mittens while you sleep.

    General instructions

    • If you are sick, stay home except to get medical care. Your health care provider will tell you how long to stay home.
      • If you suspect mpox, let the health care provider know before you go into a clinic or doctor's office.
    • To help prevent spreading the rash:
      • Do not touch your eyes. Do not use contact lenses.
      • Do not shave close to the areas that have the rash.
    • Drink enough clear fluid to keep your urine pale yellow.
    • Disinfect objects and surfaces that you touch a lot.
    • Return to your normal activities as told by your health care provider.
    • Ask your health care provider when it is safe for you to be around other people.

    How is this prevented?

    To protect yourself:

    • Stay away from people who are sick.
    • Do not touch a rash on someone else's skin.
    • Avoid crowded indoor spaces. Follow guidance from your country and local health authorities.
    • Talk to your health care provider about your risk and whether you should get the mpox vaccine.

    To protect others:

    • Call your health care provider before you go for medical care.
    • Wear a cloth face covering or face mask when around others. Make sure it covers your nose and mouth.
    • Cough or sneeze into a tissue or your sleeve or elbow. Do not cough or sneeze into your hand or into the air.
    • Stay away from other members of your household. Let healthy household members care for children and pets.
    • If possible:
      • Stay in your own room, away from others.
      • Use a separate bathroom.
      • If you must be around people, cover your rash with a loose bandage (dressing) or wear long sleeves and pants.
      • Stay home.
    • Do not use public transport, if possible.
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
    • Make sure that all people in your household wash their hands well and often.

    Where to find more information

    Contact a health care provider if:

    • You have symptoms that get worse.
    • You have a fever and medicines do not help.
    • You have any signs of skin infection.

    Get help right away if:

    • You have confusion.
    • You have unusual drowsiness.
    • You have seizures.
    • You have vision changes.
    • You have trouble breathing.

    These symptoms may be an emergency. Get help right away. Call 911.
    • Do not wait to see if the symptoms will go away.
    • Do not drive yourself to the hospital.

    This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your health care provider. Make sure you discuss any questions you have with your health care provider.

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