Essential information adapted from a Q&A that is also available in more detail at the California Department of Public Health website.

What is Mpox?

Mpox, also known as Monkeypox, is a disease caused by infection with the mpox virus which is related to the smallpox virus. While generally less severe and much less contagious than smallpox, mpox can be a serious illness. The virus spreads primarily through skin-to-skin contact with people who have mpox symptoms such as rash or sores, and may also spread through close, personal contact or exposure to materials contaminated with the virus.

Is Mpox related to COVID-19?

No, mpox is a completely different disease, is not related to COVID-19, and spreads differently. People with mpox are generally contagious when they have a rash or other symptoms, and mpox spread takes place through prolonged direct, close contact. This is different from COVID-19, which spreads easily through the air.

Who can get Mpox?

Anyone can get mpox after having close physical contact with someone who has the infection, especially contact with infected lesions (sores), bodily fluids, or other contaminated surfaces. However, the current risk to the public is low. 

How is Mpox transmitted?

It spreads primarily through direct contact with infectious sores, scabs, or body fluids, including during sex, as well as activities like kissing, hugging, massaging, and cuddling. Mpox can spread through touching materials used by a person with mpox that haven’t been cleaned, such as clothing, towels and bedding. It can also spread by respiratory secretions (talking, coughing, sneezing, breathing) during prolonged, close, face-to-face contact. 

What are the signs and symptoms of Mpox? 

Mpox may start with flu-like symptoms; fever, low energy, swollen lymph nodes, and general body aches. Within 1 to 3 days (sometimes longer) after the appearance of fever, the person can develop a rash or sores. The sores will go through several stages, including scabs, before healing. People with mpox may experience all or only a few of these symptoms. Most people with mpox will get the rash or sores. Sometimes the sores can be located in places that are difficult for someone to see. Some people have reported developing the rash or sores before (or without) the flu-like symptoms

What treatments are available for Mpox?

Most infections are mild and will resolve without any treatment. There are currently no treatments specifically for mpox. However, given that mpox and smallpox viruses are genetically similar, antiviral drugs developed to protect against smallpox, such as tecovirimat (TPOXX), may be used to treat mpox. 

Do I need to get vaccinated against Mpox?

Vaccines are not recommended for people who have mpox. Vaccines are recommended for people who have been exposed to prevent them from developing the disease, and can also be given to those who do not have a known exposure, but are at risk for exposure.

Visit the Santa Clara County Public Health Department Mpox website for more information on vaccine eligibility. 

What do I do if I have symptoms or have been exposed?

  • Wear a mask if you have symptoms.
  • Cover any rashes and sores until you get them checked by a medical provider as soon as possible.
  • Avoid in-person gatherings, especially if they involve close, personal skin-to-skin contact. This includes sexual activity.
  • Avoid sharing personal effects, including clothing, linens, and utensils.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based sanitizer

If you believe you may have Mpox or been exposed, call a healthcare professional. 

  • Students may call the Student Wellness Center at (408) 924-6122
  • Staff and faculty are advised to contact their health care provider and visit the Santa Clara County Public Health Department for more information.

For more information