An Update on Monkeypox

by Kevin Stephens, MD
An Update on Monkeypox

On July 30th, The New York City Health Department declared Monkeypox a public health emergency.  Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by being infected with the monkeypox virus.  Over 99% of people who get this form of the disease are likely to survive, however, there are certain high-risk groups including people with weakened immune systems, children under the age of 8, and people who are pregnant or breastfeeding that may be more likely to have more serious cases.


Monkeypox typically starts with flu-like symptoms such as fever, low energy, swollen lymph nodes, and body aches.  1-3 days after a fever, a person can develop a rash that looks like pimples or blisters.  The sores go through several stages before healing, usually lasting between 2 to 4 weeks.


  • In this current outbreak, the virus is mainly spreading during sex and other intimate contact including activities like hugging, kissing, and massaging.  

  • It can also be spread through touching materials used by a person with monkeypox that hasn’t been cleaned such as clothing or bedding.  

  • Lastly, it can be spread by respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact (e.g., living with someone or caring for someone who has monkeypox).


  • Avoid skin-to-skin contact with individuals who have a rash or other monkeypox-related symptoms.

  • Avoiding contact with items and materials that have been used by a person with monkeypox.

  • Washing your hands often with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.


  • At this time, vaccination is only available via the New York City Health Department for people who are at high risk of contracting monkeypox.

  • To see if you qualify please visit the New York City Health Department website.

  • To schedule an appointment, you can visit this link or call 877-VAX-4NYC


The main treatment for monkeypox is pain and symptom control while the lesions heal.  For individuals with severe disease or at high risk of complications, there is an investigational antiviral that can be prescribed by your healthcare provider.

If you have concerns you might have monkeypox please schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider or contact the NYC Department of Health. 

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