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Key Things To Know About the Monkeypox Vaccine and Prevention


Infectious disease experts in Connecticut are tracking a growing number monkeypox cases in the region and urging people to be on the lookout for signs and symptoms. It is caused by an infection of the monkeypox virus, which is a cousin of smallpox, resulting in a rash that looks like pimples or blisters. Thankfully, many people recover on their own.

“The lesions can be painful, they’re itchy, people are sick with a fever, they feel bad and that could last for two to four weeks. With that said, most people we’re finding with this outbreak are getting better without anything other than supportive care,” said Richard Martinello, MD, director of Infection Prevention for Yale New Haven Health.

Learn more about monkeypox and answers to frequently asked questions about prevention and treatment.

How does monkeypox spread?

Monkeypox is spread through close contact with another person for prolonged periods of time or during direct contact with monkeypox skin lesions, which can sometimes occur during sexual encounters. Monkeypox however, is not considered to be a sexually transmitted disease.

Monkeypox is also much less transmissible than COVID-19 which spreads through respiratory droplets. People without symptoms cannot spread the virus.

What are the symptoms of monkeypox?

Early signs of monkeypox may present like flu-like symptoms including fever, headache, muscle aches and chills. The rash commonly associated with monkeypox can appear inside the mouth and other parts of the body, including genitals.

What should you do if you suspect you have symptoms?

Anyone who suspects they have symptoms should call their doctor right away to get tested. It’s also important to stay home and avoid contact with others any time you think you are sick.

How can you prevent the spread of monkeypox?

The CDC recommends avoiding skin-to-skin contact with anyone who has a rash that appears to be monkeypox, avoid sharing utensils and avoid touching bedding, towels or clothing used by a person who has the illness.

If you become get sick with monkeypox, isolate and stay in another area away from other members of your household, including pets, until your rashes have scabbed over and a fresh layer of skin appears underneath.

How is monkeypox treated?

Most people recover on their own in two to four weeks. Some people with weakened immune systems, children or pregnant people may be at a greater risk for severe illness and may be eligible for anti-viral treatments once disease occurs.

A smallpox vaccine known as JYNNEOS can be used to protect against monkeypox. The vaccine contains two doses administered four weeks apart, and it should be given within four days of exposure. If the vaccine is given after a period of 4-14 days, it can still help to reduce monkeypox symptoms.

However, it is important to note that this vaccine is not widely available in Connecticut now. Currently, only those with exposures to someone known to have monkeypox are eligible for the vaccine.

Stay up to date on monkeypox by visiting the CDC, CT Department of Public Health and City of New Haven websites.