Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. For more information, please see the links below:

Monkeypox FAQ:

What is monkeypox?
Monkeypox is a rash illness, caused by the monkeypox virus, which can be spread from person-to-person or animal-to-person, or from contact with contaminated materials.

How is monkeypox different from COVID-19?
Monkeypox varies from COVID-19 in several important ways that make it a less serious threat. First, monkeypox cannot be transmitted by anyone who is not symptomatic. Second, monkeypox does not spread as easily as COVID-19. Monkeypox is transmitted mainly through direct skin-to-skin contact with an infected person, particularly through contact with the skin rash, while COVID-19 can be easily transmitted through the air. Individuals with monkeypox can also be easily identified and quarantined to reduce the potential for outbreaks. 

How serious is monkeypox? 
Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus lasting 2-4 weeks. The virus is part of the same family of viruses that causes smallpox. Monkeypox symptoms are similar to smallpox symptoms, but milder, and rarely fatal. 

How is monkeypox spread?
Monkeypox virus can be spread person-to-person through infected body fluids (including saliva and lesion fluid), items that have been in contact with infected fluids or lesion crusts, and contact with respiratory secretions. The incubation period is usually 7−14 days but can range from 5−21 days.

Unlike COVID-19, monkeypox is not transmitted by individuals who are asymptomatic. 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 2-4 weeks.

Is there a vaccine to prevent monkeypox? 
Yes, vaccines are currently in limited supply and available based on specific criteria at specific health departments and other health clinics in the state, including at Duke Health on campus. Vaccination can protect against monkeypox or reduce disease severity. NC DHHS has expanded the vaccine eligibility criteria to include:

  • Anyone who had close contact in the past two weeks with someone who has been diagnosed with monkeypox,
  • Men who have sex with men or transgender individuals who report any of the following in the last 90 days:
    • Having multiple sex partners or anonymous sex
    • Being diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection
    • Receiving medications to prevent HIV infection (PrEP)

What are the symptoms of Monkeypox? 
According to the CDC, symptoms commonly include the following:

  • Fever, 
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches and backache
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Chills
  • Exhaustion
  • Respiratory symptoms (e.g. sore throat, nasal congestion, or cough)
  • A rash that may be located on or near the genitals or anus but could also be on other areas like the hands, feet, chest, face, or mouth.
    • The rash will go through several stages, including scabs, before healing.
    • The rash can look like pimples or blisters and may be painful or itchy.

Anyone who has a fever and/or other symptoms without a rash should still be tested for COVID-19.

What steps can be taken to prevent transmission of monkeypox? 

  • Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash that looks like monkeypox.
    • Do not touch the rash or scabs of a person with monkeypox.
    • Do not kiss, hug, cuddle or have sex with someone with monkeypox.
  • Avoid contact with objects and materials that a person with monkeypox has used.
    • Do not share eating utensils or cups with a person with monkeypox.
    • Do not handle or touch the bedding, towels, or clothing of a person with monkeypox.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially before eating or touching your face and after you use the bathroom.

What should I do if I have symptoms or believe I may have been exposed to someone with monkeypox? 
Avoid close contact, including sex or being intimate with anyone, until you have been checked out by a healthcare provider. 

Employees with a fever and new onset rash should not come to work and need to be seen by their personal healthcare provider, urgent care, or the Health Department. Please notify the clinic of any concern for monkeypox prior to your arrival. If there is a concern for a communicable rash (a rash that could be spread to other people), the employee must be cleared by EOHW before returning to work. Employees with fever and rash who have been evaluated by their personal healthcare provider should call the EOHW Exposure hotline (919-385-0429, option 1) to discuss return to work timing. Hotline hours are Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. and Saturday - Sunday 8 a.m. -12 p.m. Please discuss your symptoms with your personal healthcare provider before calling the EOHW Exposure hotline.

Students with fever and new onset rash should contact Student Health at 919-681-9355 (choose option 2) for further guidance and not go to class or other activities until evaluated by Student Health.  At this time, students with fever should also get a COVID-19 test before returning to class or other activities.   

Where can someone be tested for monkeypox? 
Testing is widely available and encouraged if you had close contact with someone who has been diagnosed with monkeypox, or have unexplained bumps, sores, blisters, or pimples that look like monkeypox. Contact your healthcare provider or local health department to arrange for testing if needed. Testing is also available at Duke Health clinics for patients. 

If you test positive, you will receive specific guidance regarding isolation and treatment from the local health department and the clinicians who arranged testing.  You should expect that contact tracing will be performed by the health department to ensure that everyone who might additionally need testing or vaccination can be notified appropriately.

Is Duke planning to make program changes as a result of monkeypox? 
The risk of broad community transmission is low due to the mode of transmission. As a result, there are no changes planned for Duke’s operations or programs at this time. 

Should I avoid travel to other countries or regions as a result of more individuals contracting monkeypox? 
At this time, we do not expect disruptions to international travel and are not recommending changes to current travel plans or programs. Additional information may be communicated by Duke’s Global Travel Advisory Committee as conditions warrant. All Duke international travelers should register their trips through the Travel Registry so officials can quickly identify the location and provide support for faculty, staff and students in the event of emergency circumstances.