Text in navy blue reads what you need to know about monkeypox. Orange graphic dots in various sizes line the right side.


Monkeypox is a disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. Monkeypox virus is part of the same family of viruses as variola virus, the virus that causes smallpox. Monkeypox symptoms are similar to smallpox symptoms, but milder, and monkeypox is rarely fatal. Monkeypox is not related to chickenpox and it is not a sexually transmitted infection (STI). It can spread through any close, personal contact with someone infected.

Have questions about monkeypox? Call 440-322-6367 to talk to a public health nurse. 


  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches and backache
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Chills
  • Exhaustion
  • Respiratory symptoms (such as a sore throat, nasal congestion, or cough)
  • Rash or sores 
  • In addition to classic symptoms, the current outbreak of monkeypox virus includes new symptoms that include but are not limited to: rectal pain, pain upon defecation, penile swelling or fluid retention, and other secondary bacterial infections. 

How does monkeypox spread?

A person with monkeypox can spread it to others from the time symptoms start until the rash has fully healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed. It can take up to 21 days for symptoms to develop after exposure. Monkeypox can spread to anyone through:

  • Direct contact with monkeypox rash or scabs on a person’s skin.
  • Contact with objects, fabrics (clothing, bedding, or towels), and surfaces that have been used by someone with monkeypox.
  • Contact with respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact like kissing, cuddling, or sex.
  • A pregnant person can spread the virus to their fetus through the placenta.

The best way to protect yourself from the current monkeypox outbreak is to:

  • Avoid any rashes or sores you see on others and minimize skin-to-skin contact when possible.
  • Avoid sex and other intimate contact with multiple or anonymous partners.
  • If you feel sick or have any rashes or sores, do not attend any gatherings and see a healthcare provider.

Who is at risk? 

Anyone can get monkeypox if they come in close contact with someone infected with the virus, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation. At this time, most, but not all cases of monkeypox within the 2022 outbreak have been found in people who identify as gay, bisexual, or men who have sex with men.

Monkeypox testing and vaccinations

If you have symptoms of monkeypox, talk to your healthcare provider right away. Your healthcare provider will help you decide if you need to be tested for monkeypox. If they decide you should be tested, they will work with you to collect the specimens and send them to a laboratory for testing. Laboratory testing results can take up to two weeks.

Before you see a healthcare provider (or while waiting for test results), you should:

  • Avoid close contact with others.
    Avoid close contact with pets or other animals.

Vaccine appointments are available in Cuyahoga County for people who are eligible.

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