With monkeypox declared a national health emergency in the United States, many of us have questions. You might want to know what the symptoms of monkeypox are and how it spreads. And importantly, what should you do if you get sick from monkeypox? We’re here to answer your questions and get you the care you need.
While the risk of catching monkeypox in the U.S. is low, it’s important to be informed about what to do if you get sick. The team at HealthPartners and Park Nicollet can help prevent, diagnose and treat monkeypox.
Monkeypox can spread easily. In order to prevent spreading the illness to others, don’t make a regular appointment with your doctor. Instead, call us to schedule an appointment. We’ll let you know where to go for monkeypox testing and treatment.
Monkeypox is a rare illness caused by an Orthopoxvirus, the same type of viruses that cause smallpox. However, monkeypox is far less severe than smallpox and is rarely fatal. It’s characterized by flu-like symptoms and a rash on the face or body that can look similar to pimples or blisters.
The monkeypox virus is typically found near tropical rainforests in central and western Africa. Monkeypox can spread from person to person, from animal to person and sometimes from person to animal.
The risk of catching monkeypox remains low in the United States, but cases are spreading in several states across the country, including Minnesota and Wisconsin.
A common symptom of monkeypox is a rash that may look like pimples or blisters. It can occur anywhere on the body including the face, genitals, hands, feet, chest or inside the mouth. The rash may be painful or itchy. It may appear 1-3 days after other symptoms, which include:
- Flu-like symptoms (chills, muscle aches, backache, fatigue)
- Swollen lymph nodes (lymphadenopathy)
- Respiratory symptoms (sore throat, cough, congestion)
Everyone experiences monkeypox differently. It’s possible to develop a rash without any other symptoms or have flu-like symptoms without a rash. You may notice only one or two sores or have a rash over your whole body. There’s a range of symptoms that vary from person to person.
If you suspect that you have symptoms of monkeypox, contact your doctor to ask about testing.
Monkeypox can often be diagnosed with a physical exam. We’ll check you for a rash, sores and swollen lymph nodes, which can help differentiate monkeypox from other, similar illnesses. We’ll also ask you if you’ve been in contact with a person or animal who has monkeypox.
If we can’t determine whether you have monkeypox from a physical exam, we might perform diagnostic tests. If you have sores on your skin, we’ll swab them to get a sample. Then we’ll either examine the sample under a microscope or perform a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test to look for the monkeypox virus in your DNA.
If you have symptoms of monkeypox or have had contact with someone who was diagnosed with monkeypox, call to make an appointment with your doctor. We’ll give you instructions on how to visit a clinic to get tested.
Monkeypox can spread from close contact with someone with monkeypox or by touching surfaces an infected person has touched. It’s important to avoid sitting in the waiting room if you think you have monkeypox so you don’t give the illness to anyone else.
We’ll let you know exactly what to do and where to go when you arrive for your appointment. This will help you get the care you need while preventing the illness from spreading.
The JYNNEOS vaccine can be used to prevent catching monkeypox. This is a two-dose vaccine and doses are given about four weeks apart.
The supply of vaccines in the U.S. is currently limited. In order to prevent the spread of monkeypox, people who are at high risk of getting monkeypox are getting the vaccine first.
There’s a limited supply of the monkeypox vaccine. In order to prevent the spread of monkeypox, people at a high risk of getting monkeypox are first in line to get the vaccine. As the supply increases over the coming weeks, more people will be able to get the vaccine.
Eligibility for the monkeypox vaccine may vary by state.
In Minnesota, the vaccine is for people 18 and older, who don’t have monkeypox symptoms, and:
- Have been exposed to someone within the last 14 days who has been diagnosed with monkeypox, or someone whose doctor strongly believes has monkeypox but hasn’t received their test results yet.
- Have had more than one sexual partner within the past 14 days and engages in sex work (not limited to MSM)
- Identify as gay, bisexual or other men who have sex with men (MSM) and
- Attended an event or venue in the past 14 days where you had intimate, sexual contact with more than one partner.
- Have had more than one sexual partner in the past 14 days and reports at least one of the following:
- Living with HIV
- Has an immune-compromising condition
- On HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP)
- Are deemed at a higher risk for monkeypox by a doctor or public health recommendation (e.g., being treated for a sexually transmitted infection [STI] in the past month, someone experiencing homelessness, someone who is incarcerated or someone traveling to an area with community spread of monkeypox)
- You’re someone deemed at high risk per a doctor’s clinical judgement or public health recommendation
For more information about who qualifies for the monkeypox vaccine in Minnesota, visit the
In Wisconsin, the monkeypox vaccine is currently available for:
- Known contacts who are identified by public health via case investigation, contact tracing and risk exposure assessments
- Presumed contacts who may meet the following criteria:
- People who know that a sexual partner in the past 14 days was diagnosed with monkeypox.
- People who attended an event or venue where there was known monkeypox exposure.
- Gay men, bisexual men, trans men and women, any men who have sex with men (MSM), and gender nonconforming/nonbinary individuals, who have had multiple sexual partners in the last 14 days.
- People with certain risk factors who are more likely to have been recently exposed to monkeypox, even if they have not had documented exposure to someone with confirmed monkeypox.
For more information about who qualifies for the monkeypox vaccine in Wisconsin, visit the
Most people who catch monkeypox get better on their own without treatment from a doctor. We recommend that you get rest, stay hydrated and keep your sores clean. You can use over-the-counter medicines, like ibuprofen and acetaminophen, to manage fever, body aches, headaches and pain caused by the rash. Covering your sores with gauze or bandages can help keep your rash clean.
If over-the-counter medicines aren’t helping to manage your pain, we can prescribe other medicines. Call your doctor at HealthPartners:
You can also take a few steps to help prevent spreading monkeypox to others until you’ve recovered. Wear a close-fitting mask over your nose and mouth when around others or out in public. And if you have a rash on your hands, wear gloves while touching objects or surfaces in shared spaces. Disposable gloves are best. If you wear reusable gloves, wash them thoroughly with soap and water after each use.
It usually takes between 2-4 weeks for someone to fully recover from monkeypox. You’re considered healed and no longer contagious once your rash has healed, all of the scabs have fallen off and a new layer of skin has formed.
While you’re recovering, you’ll notice your monkeypox rash going through many stages. The sores usually start out flat, become raised, fill with fluid (like blisters), scab and then fall off.
You might notice small scars or differences in your skin color where the sores used to be. While this sometimes happens, it doesn’t mean you’re still contagious. Once all the scabs fall off and a new layer of skin has formed, you can no longer spread monkeypox.
Monkeypox typically spreads through close contact with someone who has monkeypox. This includes skin-to-skin contact, touching the monkeypox rash or from bodily fluids. It’s possible to spread monkeypox through sexual contact, hugging, kissing and cuddling.
It can also spread through respiration (breathing) during prolonged face-to-face contact with someone who has monkeypox.
It's also possible to get monkeypox from touching objects or materials someone who is infected has touched. This includes bedding, clothing, towels, shared surfaces and eating utensils.
Infected animals can also spread monkeypox to humans. It’s possible to get monkeypox from interacting with an infected animal. This includes touching the animal, getting scratched or bitten by the animal, or eating meat from an infected animal. This is most common in areas of the world where the virus is endemic (or native), or through contact with imported animals.
During pregnancy, it’s possible to spread monkeypox to an unborn child through the placenta. If you’re pregnant and have questions about monkeypox, reach out to your OB-GYN. You can also give us a call 24/7 to speak to our nurses about your questions and concerns. Call the HealthPartners CareLine℠ at
There are many things you can do to help
- Keep your distance from people with monkeypox and avoid skin-to-skin contact. Monkeypox most commonly spreads through close contact with someone who has the illness. This includes kissing, hugging and having sex. But it can also spread with prolonged respiratory (breathing) contact
- Don’t touch monkeypox sores or scabs.
- Avoid touching objects used by someone with monkeypox. This includes bedding, clothing, towels, eating utensils and cups.
- Wash your hands frequently, especially before eating and after using the bathroom. You can also use alcohol-based hand sanitizer to kill germs on your hands.
If you’re concerned about catching monkeypox and have questions about how to protect yourself, we’re here to help. You can speak to one of our nurses 24/7, 365 days a year at no charge. We’ll answer your questions, give advice based on your symptoms, and help you decide if it’s time to visit a doctor.
Yes, pets can get monkeypox. Just like how infected animals can give monkeypox to people, it’s possible for people to spread monkeypox to their pets. Animals can get monkeypox from close contact with infected people, including petting, cuddling, kissing, hugging, sharing food and sleeping in the same bed.
People who have been exposed to monkeypox should avoid contact with animals. And if your pet has been exposed to someone with monkeypox, keep them isolated at home and away from other people and animals for 21 days.
We accept most health insurance plans, including Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, CIGNA, HealthPartners, Medica, Medicare, PreferredOne and many others.
Not sure what your insurance covers? Call the number on the back of your card for help looking at your options.
Don’t have your card in front of you? Here are member services numbers to help you get started:
- Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota:
800-244-6224(insurance through work); 866-494-2111(insurance directly or through the Exchange)
- Medicare: 1-800-MEDICARE (
763-847-4477(in the Twin Cities); 800-997-1750(outside the metro area)
- United Healthcare: