About Monkeypox

Monkeypox is a contagious disease caused by the monkeypox virus.

Anyone can get monkeypox, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation. Most of the current cases in the U.S. are occurring in social networks of men who have sex with men and individuals with multiple or anonymous sex partners. However, it is not limited to these individuals.

Monkeypox is not as contagious as COVID-19 or the flu. The risk of spread is highest during oral sex, anal sex, vaginal sex, and other intimate contact such as hugging, kissing, cuddling and massage. 

The monkeypox virus is most often spread through:

  • Direct, prolonged contact with a rash or sores of someone who has the virus
  • Coming in contact with clothing, bedding or other items used by the person with the virus
  • Respiratory droplets passed through prolonged face-to-face contact over several hours

Get Care

Cook County health is offering monkeypox  vaccination at several health centers. Appointments are required.

Ruth M. Rothstein CORE Center

*Offering vaccination, testing and treatment

2020 W. Harrison St., Chicago, IL 60612

Phone Number: 312-572-4500, and press 0 to reach the operator

Arlington Heights Health Center

3250 N. Arlington Heights Rd., Suite 300, Arlington Heights, IL 60004

Phone Number: 833-308-1988

Blue Island Health Center

12757 S. Western Ave., Blue Island, IL 60406

Phone Number: 833-308-1988

North Riverside Health Center

1800 S. Harlem Ave., Suite A, North Riverside, IL 60546

Phone Number: 833-308-1988

Symptoms

Symptoms usually start within two weeks after exposure, but may not appear for up to 21 days.
Common symptoms include:
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headaches
  • Muscle or back aches
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Tiredness
  • Rash or sores
  • A rash may appear all over the body or only certain parts, including the face, hands, feet or around or in the mouth, genital area or anus.

These symptoms can occur before or at the same time as the rash or sores.

Recent cases have been mild. Most people got better on their own and were not hospitalized. The disease, however, can sometimes be more severe. Even with mild illness, the rash and sores may be itchy and painful and last for two to four weeks.

A person is contagious until all sores have healed and a new layer of skin has formed, which can take two to four weeks. A person with monkeypox should stay away from other people until their sores are fully healed.

If You Have Symptoms

If you start experiencing symptoms or have been in contact with someone with confirmed monkeypox, isolate from others immediately and call your doctor.

Monkeypox Screening

Your health care provider will review your symptoms and decide if you need to get tested for monkeypox. Results of lab tests may take three or four days, so if your doctor thinks you have monkeypox, they will tell you to isolate at home until the results come back. To keep others from catching monkeypox, you should isolate at home, away from other family members and pets. Cats and dogs can catch monkeypox. If you test negative, your doctor may tell you that you can leave isolation.

HIV and other conditions that weaken your immune system; and a history of atopic dermatitis or eczema may increase the risk of severe disease if you are infected. If you have symptoms and one of these conditions, it is especially important to see a provider right away.

If you do not have a health care provider, call Cook County Health at 312-864-0200.

Vaccination

Currently there is a limited supply of the JYNNEOS vaccine, which has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the prevention of monkeypox in people ages 18 and older. 

The JYNNEOS vaccine is currently recommended for individuals with close contact with a person with confirmed monkeypox infection or for persons at higher risk of intimate exposure: having skin-to-skin contact with someone in a social network experiencing monkeypox activity At this time this includes: gay, bisexual or other (cis or trans) men who have sex with men who have intimate or sexual contact with other men in a social or sexual venue, or who have multiple or anonymous partners or give or receive money or other goods/services in exchange for sex.

The vaccine is not currently recommended for the general public, including (cis or trans) men who have sex with men without the additional criteria.

Chicago residents can find monkeypox information and vaccination sites here: https://www.chicago.gov/city/en/depts/cdph/supp_info/health-protection/get-the-facts-monkeypox.html 

Treatment

There is no specific treatment approved for monkeypox and most people get better on their own. However, antiviral medications used to treat smallpox may help those with severe monkeypox disease. If you test positive, your health care provider will help you find out if you are eligible for antiviral treatment.

Prevention

To reduce your chance of getting and spreading monkeypox:

  • Do not have sex or close physical contact if you or your partner feel sick and have a new or unexpected rash or sore.
  • If you are sick and have a new unexpected rash or sore, avoid parties or gatherings until you have talked to a health care provider.
  • If you choose to have sex while sick, avoid kissing and other face-to-face contact. Cover all sores with clothing or sealed bandages. This may help reduce — but not eliminate — the risk of transmission.
  • Wash your hands, sex toys and bedding before and after sex or other intimate activities.
  • If you are come into regular contact with someone who has monkeypox, regularly clean your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub, especially after contact with the person who is infected, their clothes, bed sheets, towels and other items or surfaces they have touched or that might have come into contact with their rash or respiratory secretions (e.g., utensils, dishes).
  • Wash the person’s clothes, towels, bedsheets, and eating utensils with warm water and detergent. Clean and disinfect any contaminated surfaces and dispose of contaminated waste (e.g., dressings) appropriately. 

Download Monkeypox Flyer

Last updated: 8/4/2022
en_USEnglish