Monkeypox Overview


Monkeypox is a rare disease that is caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. Monkeypox virus belongs to the Orthopoxvirus genus which includes the variola (smallpox) virus as well as the vaccinia virus, which is used in the smallpox vaccine. Monkeypox can be spread from infected humans, animals, and materials contaminated with the virus. In May 2022, cases of Monkeypox were identified outside of Africa unrelated to travel or animal exposure. This outbreak has grown considerably since then, with over 25,000 global cases and 7000 in the United States alone. Most of the cases have occurred among men who have sex with men, but this disease is not thought to be sexually transmitted and anyone can be infected. Recently the WHO and the US declared Monkeypox to be a public health emergency.   

Common Symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Body aches
  • Fatigue
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Characteristic Rash (sores that appear to be fluid filled pimples/blisters)

Please note that someone may only experience a few of the above symptoms. The rash was previously thought to appear all over the body after the initial flu-like symptoms, but with the 2022 Outbreak we are seeing more cases of isolated rash, especially to genital areas.


Monkeypox is primarily spread through direct skin-to-skin contact with sores, scabs or other body fluids, often due to intimate physical contact. It can also spread by touching shared items such as clothing or bedding, as well as prolonged face-to-face contact via respiratory droplets. Most cases in the current outbreak are occurring among men who have sex with men, but some cases have also been due to household transmission. The time between exposure to symptom onset often takes 5-21 days, and someone is thought to be asymptomatic until symptoms develop. Therefore, close symptom monitoring and contact tracing are key to prevent further transmission.

Diagnosis, Prevention and Treatment:

Diagnosis primarily occurs via swab of the characteristic rash, and results may take a few days to return. Behavioral modification to reduce direct physical contact with others, PPE such as masks and gloves, and cleaning of shared surfaces can all prevent transmission of Monkeypox. Vaccines, currently limited in supply, can also prevent cases before exposure as well as in the immediate period after an exposure. Antiviral treatments are also available which can shorten the course of disease and prevent the most severe symptoms. If you think you may have Monkeypox, or have had a significant exposure, please contact your healthcare provider or the local public health department. If you are concerned about workplace transmission, please contact UC Davis Occupational Health Services at 530-752-6051.

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