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Frequently Asked Questions

This page provides answers to your most-asked questions about monkeypox in Alabama. Download our one-page flyer which contains the questions below. For more FAQ, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Frequently Asked Questions.

Monkeypox is a very rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. It is usually found in Central and West Africa and does not occur naturally in the United States. However, cases have recently been identified in the U.S. with more cases expected. This situation is being closely monitored by public health. For current information on the most recent cases of monkeypox in the U.S., visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Monkeypox does not spread easily from person to person. It can spread through contact with infected animals or infected humans, or through contact with materials used by infected people (like clothing or linens). The virus typically enters the body through broken skin, respiratory droplets, or mucous membranes (eyes, nose, or mouth).
Monkeypox has not previously been described as a sexually transmitted infection, though it can be passed on by direct contact during sex, i.e., via lesions on the skin. It is currently unknown if it spreads through semen or vaginal fluids. Because rashes can also emerge on the genitals and inside the mouth, oral sex could also be a route of transmission for the virus. Anyone who has close physical contact with someone who is infectious is at risk.
Disease symptoms always involve a rash which begins after the start of other symptoms. For the current outbreak, cases have presented atypically, which means that most of the cases have had a rash to start in the genital or perianal region. Early signs include fever, malaise (a general feeling of discomfort), headache, swollen lymph nodes, and sometimes cough or sore throat. Other symptoms include muscle aches, backache, chills, and exhaustion. This clinical picture may change as more cases of monkeypox are diagnosed.
In most cases of monkeypox, treatment is supportive, easing the symptoms of illness. Some cases, such as in persons with severe disease or high risk of severe disease, may need special antiviral treatment, which has to be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). An antiviral developed to treat smallpox (tecovirimat, commercialized as TPOXX) has been approved for the treatment of monkeypox and may be obtained. The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) is in regular communication with the CDC about any treatment for monkeypox if needed.

Steps to help prevent monkeypox include:

  • Avoiding contact with animals that could have the virus (such as animals that are sick or that have been found dead)
  • Avoiding contact with materials, like bedding, that has been in contact with a sick animal or person infected with this virus
  • Keeping infected patients away from others
  • Washing hands with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer after contact with infected animals or humans.
Currently, there is an international outbreak occurring that may not be associated with animals or travel to an area where this disease is more common. ADPH is monitoring this situation and alerting healthcare providers through our Health Alert Network.
There is a vaccine (Jynneos) that can help prevent or lessen the severity of monkeypox for exposed individuals. Some health departments and other clinics will have a limited amount of vaccine for selected high-risk persons. During this current outbreak, due to a limited vaccine supply, persons who have been in direct contact with a presumed or confirmed monkeypox are candidates for the vaccine. Some other persons who are candidates for vaccine include persons who have male-to-male sexual contact with other risk factors, including sexual contact with multiple, anonymous, or casual sex partners, treatment for an STD in the last 14 days, more than one partner in the last 14 days who is HIV positive on HIV PrEP or has an immunosuppressive condition. Monkeypox can be prevented if the vaccine is given up to four days after exposure. Vaccine given after four and up to fourteen days after exposure could reduce the severity of the illness but might not prevent the disease. Previous vaccination against smallpox may provide limited protection since both diseases are from the same family of viruses. People vaccinated against smallpox, in the past, will have some protection against monkeypox. People below the 40-50 age group are unlikely to have been inoculated against smallpox since vaccination ended in the world by 1980. Some people received the smallpox vaccine after 9/11 if they were first responders or medical personnel.
ADPH will provide PPE if entities do not have ready access.
Please contact your healthcare provider if you believe you have signs or symptoms of monkeypox.





Page last updated: August 16, 2022