What to Know about Monkeypox
Monkeypox is a viral illness that can cause a temporary skin rash and other symptoms in infected humans. In 2022, the United States began experiencing an outbreak of the monkeypox virus, along with several countries in Europe and across the globe. Presently, the risk of monkeypox for most Rhode Islanders remains low.
People with monkeypox get a rash that may be found on or near the genitals or anus and could be on other areas such as the hands, feet, chest, face, or mouth.
The rash will go through several stages, including scabs, before healing. It can initially look like pimples or blisters and may be painful or itchy.
Other symptoms of monkeypox may include:
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Muscle aches and backache
- Respiratory symptoms (sore throat, nasal congestion, cough)
You may experience all or only a few symptoms. Sometimes, people have flu-like symptoms before the rash. Some people get a rash first, followed by other symptoms. Others only experience a rash.
How Long Do Monkeypox Symptoms Last?
Monkeypox symptoms usually start within three weeks of exposure to the virus. If someone has flu-like symptoms, they will usually develop a rash one to four days later.
Monkeypox can be spread from the time symptoms start until the rash has healed, all scabs have fallen off, and a fresh layer of skin has formed. The illness typically lasts two to four weeks.
What to Do if You Think You Have Monkeypox
If you believe you have monkeypox, notify your primary care physician. They can order a swab test to determine if you have a monkeypox infection.
If you are immunocompromised or have a genital or rectal rash, and do not have a primary care physician who can evaluate your symptoms, contact the Rhode Island Department of Health for a referral to a monkeypox testing site at 401-222-5960.
Mild cases of monkeypox generally do not require treatment and will resolve within two to four weeks. More severe cases, particularly those involving the mouth, eyes, genitals, or rectum, may benefit from antiviral treatment.
Individuals who are immunocompromised (e.g., people with HIV, individuals who have received an organ transplant, or those receiving immunosuppressive therapy) may benefit from antiviral treatment.
Treatment for Monkeypox Virus Infection
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have authorized the use of an antiviral medication, TPOXX (tecovirimat). It is administered under a CDC protocol. Patients seeking treatment should contact their doctor for more information and may be referred to the Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) Clinic or the Infectious Diseases Center for treatment. Both clinics are located at The Miriam Hospital and are access points for TPOXX treatment.
Other Options for Monkeypox Treatment
The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is working with several community-based health care centers to provide monkeypox treatment. Contact the RIDOH health information line for more information at 401-222-5960.
The CDC is using a specific formula to allocate monkeypox vaccine to states that takes into consideration factors such as population size, current monkeypox case counts, and historical data on sexually transmitted infections.
To date, Rhode Island is vaccinating:
- Individuals identified as close contacts of someone who has tested positive for monkeypox.
- People who are identified through a case investigation as close contacts of an individual with confirmed monkeypox.
- Rhode Island residents who are 18 years of age or older, identify as gay, bisexual, queer, or who have sex with men and/or transgender individuals, and have had multiple or anonymous sex partners in the past 30 days.
The Rhode Island Health Department has launched a monkeypox vaccine interest notification list. Residents can submit their information to be contacted when an appointment is available.
Other Monkeypox Resources
Visit these resources for additional current information about monkeypox: