The current monkeypox (MPX) situation continues to evolve and the information below will be updated as new information emerges. CDPH is closely monitoring MPX transmission in California and the U.S. to ensure identification of cases during this outbreak. The risk of MPX to the general public is currently very low based on the information available, however MPX can still infect anyone.
MPX Data in California
Find the number of reported probable/confirmed cases and demographic data in California by visiting the MPX data webpage.
MPX is a rare disease that is caused by infection with the MPX virus. The MPX 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. MPX is a public health concern because it can be transmitted person-to-person and can cause severe disease in humans. Although MPX virus is in the same family of viruses as smallpox, it is less transmissible and typically less severe than smallpox.
MPX was first identified in 1958 and primarily occurs in Central and West African countries. Historically, MPX has been rare in the U.S. and has mostly been related to international travel or the importation of animals. In 2022, there has been a significant increase in reported cases in locations where MPX is not commonly seen, including Europe, Canada, and the United States, including California. While it's good to stay alert about any emerging public health outbreaks, the current risk of MPX for the general public is very low.
MPX often starts with symptoms like the flu, with fever, low energy, swollen lymph nodes, and general body aches. Within 1 to 3 days (sometimes longer) after the appearance of fever, most infected people develop a rash or sores. The sores go through several stages, including scabs, before healing. The sores can look like pimples or blisters and may be painful and itchy.
The rash or sores may be located on or near the genitals (penis, testicles, labia, and vagina) or anus (butt) but can also appear on other areas like the hands, feet, chest, face, or inside the mouth. They may also be limited to one part of the body.
People with MPX may experience all or only a few of these symptoms. Most people with MPX will develop the rash or sores. Some people have reported developing a rash or sores before (or without) the flu-like symptoms.
MPX can spread from the time symptoms start until all sores have healed, scabs are off and a fresh layer of skin has formed underneath. This can take several weeks.
MPX can be spread by:
- Direct skin-to-skin contact with the sores or scabs of people with MPX
- Direct contact with body fluids of people with MPX, such as drainage from skin sores or saliva that was in contact with mouth sores
- Contact with the respiratory secretions of people with MPX, such as saliva, during prolonged, face-to-face contact or during intimate physical contact, such as kissing, cuddling, or sex
- Touching items (such as bedding, towels, clothing, cups and utensils) that previously touched the sores or body fluids of people with MPX
To date, there has been no evidence that MPX is spread by:
- Attending an outdoor event with fully clothed people
- Trying on clothes or shoes at a store
- Traveling in an airport, on a plane or on other public transit
- Swimming in a pool or body of water
- Casual contact with other people
If you believe you may have exposed someone to
MPX while you were infectious, you can let them know anonymously, so that they can
get tested as soon as possible. Please visit the CDPH Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) website and refer under Quick links. Testing is strongly
encouraged to help identify and prevent infections.
There are number of ways to prevent the spread of MPX, including:
- Always talking to your sexual partner/s about any recent illness and being aware of new or unexplained sores or rashes on your body or your partner's body, including on the genitals and anus
- Avoiding close contact, including hugging, kissing, cuddling and sexual activity with people who have symptoms like sores or rashes
- Not sharing materials (bedding, towels, clothing, utensils, cups) with someone who has symptoms
- Washing your hands often with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
- Using appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) like a mask, gown, and gloves when caring for others with symptoms
- Avoiding contact with infected animals
Testing & Isolation
If you have a new or an unexplained rash or other symptoms, seek medical care for further testing and evaluation.
- Wear a well-fitting mask, ensure your rash is covered, and tell your health care provider of your current symptoms of possible MPX.
- If you do not have a health care provider or healthcare insurance, visit a public health clinic or local county clinic. You may also contact the Department of Healthcare Services for more available resources.
- Avoid crowds and close contact, including sexual or intimate contact, until you see your health care provider.
For more information about isolation recommendations, please refer to the CDPH MPX Home Isolation Guidance for the General Public.
Most MPX infections are mild and will heal without any treatment. However, antiviral drugs, such as tecovirimat (TPOXX), may be used to treat MPX. This drug may be recommended for people who are more likely to get severely ill or for people who are experiencing severe disease. It may also be recommended for people who have rash or sores in areas that may be at higher risk for severe complications, such as the eyes or the genital area.
People who may be at risk for more severe illness include those with a weakened immune system, young children (<8 years of age), those who are pregnant or breastfeeding, and those with a history of certain skin diseases like eczema.
For more information on treatment, please visit the CDC Patient's Guide for Tecovirimat and the CDPH MPX Tecovirimat Treatment Information for Providers guidance.
Tecovirimat should be administered early in the course of illness along with supportive care and pain control relief for those that are high risk for progression to severe disease.
It is important to talk to your health care provider if you have symptoms of MPX and are experiencing pain or irritation due to the rash or sores. Your provider may also be able to offer treatments that are not specific to MPX, but may help to reduce your symptoms, like prescribed mouth rinses, stool softeners for those with rectal pain, or topical gels or creams.
Vaccination helps protect against MPX when given before or shortly after an exposure. At this time, the federal government has allocated a limited number of JYNNEOS vaccine doses to Californians. See the CDPH MPX vaccine page to learn more about the JYNNEOS vaccine and find out if you're eligible.
For more information about MPX, visit the CDPH MPX Q&A.