Monkeypox is a rash that can look like pimples or blisters on the face, the inside of the mouth, hands, feet, chest, genitals, or anus. Monkeypox infections are typically not severe; symptoms are usually similar to the flu with a rash and resolve within 2-4 weeks.
Clay County Public Health Center announced the first confirmed case of monkeypox in its jurisdiction on September 30, 2022. Kansas City, Missouri announced its first case of monkeypox on June 18.
On July 23, the World Health Organization declared the monkeypox outbreak to be a global health emergency. As of August 2, 83 countries are experiencing a monkeypox outbreak.
How is monkeypox spread?
The monkeypox virus is most often spread through direct contact with a rash or sores of someone who has the virus. It can also spread through contact with clothing, bedding and other items used by a person with monkeypox, or from respiratory droplets that can be passed through prolonged face-to-face contact.
Transmission can happen during sex or other intimate activities, such as:
- Oral, anal, and vaginal sex;
- Hugging, kissing, cuddling and massage;
- Contact with bedding or other items that have the virus on them during or after intimate activity.
People are unlikely to get the virus by trying on clothing in a store or touching nonporous items like door handles and counters. Additionally, some activities that people learned to limit during Covid-19 surges are probably not as risky for monkeypox transmission. For example, sitting on a subway, bus or other public transportation or going to an office or school are unlikely to put people at risk of a monkeypox exposure.
Who can get monkeypox?
Any person, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation, can acquire and spread monkeypox. Currently, the vast majority of the known monkeypox cases are among men who have sex with men.
Traveling to a country currently experiencing an outbreak could increase your risk of contracting monkeypox. If you are planning international travel, check that country’s infection rate on the WHO website.
What should I do if I have a new or unexplained rash (or other symptoms)?
Avoid sex or being intimate with anyone until you have been checked out by a health care provider. When you see a health care provider, wear a mask.
If you don’t have a provider or health insurance, call your local public health department. Clay County Public Health Center does not perform physical exams or accept walk-in appointments. Please call 816-595-4200 if you live in Clay County and need guidance.
Can I get tested for monkeypox?
Testing can be provided at Clay County Public Health Center on a case-by-case basis. No walk-ins will be accepted. Anyone who believes they have monkeypox symptoms (rash/lesions) should call Clay County Public Health Center at 816-595-4200.
To be tested at CCPHC and through the State Public Health Lab (SPHL), patients must have symptoms meet certain criteria*:
- Contact with a person or persons with a similar appearing rash or with a person who has received a diagnosis of confirmed or probable monkeypox OR
- Had close or intimate in-person contact with persons in a social network experiencing monkeypox infections. This includes meeting partners through an online website, digital application (“app”), or social event (e.g., a bar or party) OR
- Traveled, within 21 days of illness onset outside the United States to a country with confirmed cases of monkeypox or where Monkeypox virus is endemic OR
- Had contact with a dead or live wild animal or exotic pet that is an African endemic species, or used a product derived from such animals (e.g., game meat, creams, lotions, powders, etc.)
*What if I don’t meet requirements for testing?
If you do not meet the requirements for testing through the SPHL but still want to be tested, contact a health care provider who will take a swab of your lesions and send to a commercial lab. There may be costs. Please check with your insurance company to see if they will cover the lab's testing.
Commercial labs currently testing for monkeypox:
- Mayo Clinic
- Sonic Healthcare
- Aegis Sciences
Can I get vaccinated against monkeypox?
For the northwest region of Missouri, the Kansas City Health Department distributes the monkeypox (MPV) vaccine, Jynneos. Missouri residents who believe they are at high-risk should fill out this online form to check their eligibility for vaccination. All information is confidential.
Per the CDC and Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services, KCHD can vaccinate:
- Those who are considered high or medium risk after an exposure to a confirmed case and who have been approved by the state for vaccination because of their risk level.
- Missouri residents who have received their 1st dose out-of-state and can provide that documentation to receive a 2nd dose.
Can I get the vaccine if I was exposed to monkeypox more than 14 days ago?
Not at this time. Vaccine given past the 14-day window will not provide protection or reduce risk of symptoms.
Can I get a vaccine to prevent monkeypox even if I have not been exposed, like if I plan to travel to an area that has monkeypox?
Only a person who has likely been exposed to monkeypox already is eligible for vaccination.
We recommend you take precautions to protect yourself including avoiding skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash that looks like monkeypox; not handing or touching the bedding, towels or clothing of a person who knows they have monkeypox; and washing your hands or using hand sanitizer often.
What can I do to protect myself?
- Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash that looks like monkeypox.
- Do not touch the rash or scabs of a person with monkeypox.
- Do not kiss, hug, cuddle or have sex with someone with monkeypox.
- Do not share eating utensils or cups with a person with monkeypox.
- Do not handle or touch the bedding, towels, or clothing of a person with monkeypox.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
For gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men, the following activities put you at high risk for exposure:
- Having sex or other intimate contact with multiple or anonymous people (such as those met through social media, dating apps, or at parties) increases your risk of exposures;
- Clubs, raves, saunas, sex parties and other places with skin-to-skin or face-to-face contact with many people may also increase risk of exposure, especially if people are wearing less clothing.
- Personnel who collect specimens should use personal protective equipment (PPE) in accordance with recommendations for health care settings.
How severe can monkeypox be?
Hospitalization has been rare in the current outbreak, and no deaths have been reported from monkeypox in the U.S. But since the monkeypox rash can be painful and can cause permanent scarring, follow the latest guidelines to protect yourself.
Is monkeypox going to be another pandemic like COVID-19?
The spread of monkeypox is different than the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- There is a vaccine for monkeypox.
- Monkeypox can be treated with available antiviral medicines.
- While COVID-19 passed easily from person to person, monkeypox does not spread as easily between people. Monkeypox transmission typically requires skin-to-skin contact, direct contact with body fluids, or prolonged, close face-to-face contact.
How can I learn more about monkeypox?
The following websites are trusted sources of information about monkeypox.