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Mpox: What you need to know

What is mpox?


Mpox, previously known as monkeypox, is a rare disease caused by infection with the mpox virus. Mpox virus is part of the same family of viruses as variola virus, the virus that causes smallpox. Mpox symptoms are similar to smallpox symptoms, but milder, and mpox is rarely fatal. Mpox is not related to chickenpox. It is also not related to COVID-19 and is much harder to transmit than COVID-19.

The current risk of getting mpox is very low for the general public, but it's still good for everyone to know the facts about the symptoms, prevention and what to do if you get sick.  

While not everyone needs a vaccine, vaccines and treatments are already available across the state. Most patients experience mild illness and require no treatment. Mpox 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. 

Allies is now offering both mpox testing and mpox vaccination. If you come in contact with someone who may have or has mpox, or if you believe that you have symptoms that could be mpox, please contact our office to discuss testing options.

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Who is eligible for the mpox vaccine?

Allies currently is following the vaccine eligibility guidelines from the CDC and PA Department of Health to distribute the mpox vaccine.

According to the CDC, you are eligible for the mpox vaccine if you have already been exposed to or may be exposed to mpox in the future.

  • You might have already been exposed to mpox if:
    • You have been identified as a close contact of someone with mpox.
    • You learn that one of your sex partners in the past 2 weeks has been diagnosed with mpox.
    • You are a man who has had sex with other men, or if you are a transgender or nonbinary person, and in the past 2 weeks you have had:
      • Sex with multiple partners or group sex.
      • Sex at a commercial sex venue (like a sex club or bathhouse).
      • Sex at an event, venue, or in an area where mpox transmission is occurring.
  • You might be exposed to mpox in the future, if:
    • You are a man who has sex with other men, or if you are a transgender or nonbinary person and in the past 6 months have had any of the following:
      • A new diagnosis of one or more sexually transmitted diseases including acute HIV, chancroid, chlamydia, gonorrhea, or syphilis.
      • More than one sex partner.
    • You are a person who in the past 6 months has had any of the following:
      • Sex at a commercial sex venue (like a sex club or bathhouse)
      • Sex at an event, venue, or in an area where monkeypox transmission is occurring.
    • You are a person whose sexual partner identifies with any of the above scenarios.
    • You are a person who anticipates experiencing any of the above scenarios.

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How can I prevent mpox?

Mpox is not a sexually transmitted disease and does not spread easily between people. However, anyone who has extremely close personal contact — mostly skin-to-skin — including direct contact with mpox rash, scabs, or body fluid from a person with mpox, can get it and should take steps to protect themselves. 

Take the following steps to prevent getting mpox: 

  • Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash that looks like pimples or blisters. 
  • Do not touch the rash or scabs of a person with mpox. 
  • Do not kiss, hug, cuddle or have sex with someone with mpox. 
  • Do not handle or touch the unwashed bedding, towels, or clothing of a person with mpox. 
  • 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. 
  • Do not share eating utensils or cups with a person with mpox. 
  • If you have symptoms or test positive, isolate yourself until the rash heals to avoid transmitting mpox to others.

What are the symptoms of mpox?

​According to the CDC, symptoms of mpox can include: 

  • 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 (penis, testicles, labia, and vagina) or anus (butthole) 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 in 2 to 4 weeks. 
  • The rash can look like pimples or blisters and may be painful or itchy.

You may experience all or only a few symptoms. If you are experiencing symptoms or believe you have been exposed to mpox, please call Allies at 412-345-7456 to make an appointment with one of our medical providers.

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Where can I learn more about mpox?

Allies is working with partners at the city and county level to address mpox in Allegheny County. We also are following guidance from the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Information on this page courtesy of the Allegheny County Health Department, the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.