What is monkeypox?

Monkeypox (MPX) is a rare disease that is caused by the monkeypox virus, which is a part of the same family of diseases that causes smallpox. MPX symptoms are often milder than smallpox. Currently, in the United States (US) the outbreak of monkeypox is the West African type, which is rarely fatal.

Printable monkeypox quick facts


What are the symptoms of MPX?

Symptoms of monkeypox can include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches and backache
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Respiratory symptoms (e.g. sore throat, nasal congestion, or cough)
  • A rash that can look like pimples or blisters that appear on the face, inside the mouth, and on other parts of the body, like the hands, feet, chest, genitals, or anus.
    • The rash goes through different stages before healing completely. The illness typically lasts 2-4 weeks.

Sometimes, people get a rash first, followed by other symptoms. Others only experience a rash.

What to do if you are experiencing symptoms?

  • Contact your healthcare provider if you notice a new or unexplained rash or other MPX symptoms
  • Avoid close contact with others, including intimate or sexual contact, until you meet with your healthcare provider.

If you test positive for MPX, what should you do?

  • Stay isolated and observe other prevention practices until your rash has healed, all scabs have fallen off, and a fresh layer of intact skin has formed over all lesions.
  • Remain isolated if you have a fever, sore throat, nasal congestion, or cough. Only go out to see a healthcare provider or for an emergency. Avoid public transportation.
  • If you must leave isolation, cover the rash and wear a well-fitting mask.


How is monkeypox spread?

  • MPX is spread through prolonged direct physical contact with the infectious rash, scabs, or body fluids of a person with MPX.
  • Additionally, MPX can also be spread through direct contact with objects that have been used by someone with MPX.
  • It also can be spread by respiratory droplets or oral fluids during prolonged, face-to-face contact, or during intimate physical contact, such as kissing, cuddling, or sex that includes physical contact with other persons.

MPX causes a rash and lesions which lasts for 2-4 weeks. MPX can spread from the time symptoms start until the rash has fully healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed over all lesions. Anyone in close personal contact with a person with MPX can get it and should take steps to protect themselves.

MPX is not considered a sexually transmitted disease, but it is often transmitted through close, sustained physical contact, which can include sexual contact. For more information about STIs, including prevention, please visit the CDC website.

How can you prevent the spread of MPX?

  • Avoid contact with objects and materials that a person with MPX has used, which includes clothing and bedding.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces, especially high touch surfaces such as door knobs, cellphones, and keys. Additionally, washing bedding and cleaning shared furniture and bathroom spaces.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially before eating or touching your face and after you use the bathroom.
  • Practice physical distancing, especially in areas that could become crowded where skin to skin contact could be possible.
  • If you must be within 6ft of a person diagnosed with MPX, both of you should wear well-fitting masks
  • Consider reducing your number of partners, using non-contact intimacy practices, or taking a break from sexual activity. Visit the CDC website for more recommendations on reducing risk through sexual contact.
  • If you believe you may be at risk, talk to your healthcare provider or healthcare providers at Retriever Integrated Health about the MPX vaccine. At this time, national supply is limited but the university is working to understand options for our community members. At this time, please contact your local health department to determine your vaccine eligibility.

How is the university responding to MPX?

UMBC is monitoring this situation closely and meeting with on-campus health and safety experts to determine how to respond. Current plans include:

  • Developing a response plan to support community members who contract MPX
  • Partnering with the Baltimore County Health Department to understand local rates and resources
  • Instituting a response and cleaning protocol should cases be identified in our community

We will continue to update our community as the situation evolves.