Monkeypox, now recognized by the World Health Organization as "mpox", is a rare, viral infection that does not usually cause serious illness. However, it can result in hospitalization or death. That's why health officials in New York, the U.S., and around the world are monitoring cases of mpox in areas that do not usually report mpox infections, including in New York State.

While New Yorkers should not be alarmed, everyone should stay informed about mpox. This means understanding the symptoms, how it spreads, how to prevent it, and what to do if you are exposed.

Who is at risk for contracting mpox?

Though prior to the 2022 mpox outbreak, mpox was spread mostly through contact with certain animals, mpox does spread through close, physical contact between people. This means anyone can get mpox. However, based on the 2022 outbreak, certain populations are affected by mpox more than others, including men who have sex with men (MSM).

Based on previous outbreaks of mpox around the world, some groups may also be at heightened risk for severe outcomes if they contract mpox. This includes people with weakened immune systems, older adults, young children under 8 years of age, and pregnant people.

What are the symptoms of mpox?

Symptoms of mpox can include:

  • Rashes, bumps, or blisters on or around the genitals or in other areas like your hands, feet, chest, or face.
  • Flu-like symptoms, such as fever, headache, muscle aches, chills, and fatigue. These symptoms may occur before or after the rash appears, or not at all.

How does mpox spread?

Mpox is spread through close, physical contact between individuals. This includes:

  • Direct contact with mpox sores or rashes on an individual who has mpox.
  • Respiratory droplets or oral fluids from someone with mpox, particularly for those who have close contact with someone or are around them for a long period of time.

It can also be spread through contact with objects or fabrics (e.g., clothing, bedding, towels) that have been used by someone with mpox.

It is possible for mpox to spread to the fetus during pregnancy, or to the newborn during or after birth via close contact.

Mpox is also a zoonotic disease, meaning it can spread to humans who have close contact with an infected animal. While no one knows how prevalent mpox is among s, small mammals (e.g. rope and sun squirrels, giant-pouched rats, African dormice) are thought to maintain the virus in the environments of West and Central Africa.

How can I protect myself?

New Yorkers can protect themselves by taking simple steps, which are especially important for those who may be at higher risk for severe disease, including people with weakened immune systems:

  • Get vaccinated for mpox
  • Talk with your sexual partners about whether they have a rash or other symptoms consistent with mpox or other STIs, and if so, seek testing and treatment.
  • Avoid skin-to-skin contact with someone who has a rash or other mpox-related symptoms.
  • If you are exposed to mpox or experience symptoms, make sure to reach out to a healthcare provider.
  • Follow reputable sources of health information, including NYSDOH, CDC, and your local county health department.
Photo of Monkey Pox rash

Photo Credit: NHS England High Consequence Infectious Diseases Network

Photo of Monkey Pox rash

Photo Credit: NHS England High Consequence Infectious Diseases Network

Photo of Monkey Pox rash

Photo Credit: NHS England High Consequence Infectious Diseases Network

Photo of Monkey Pox rash

Photo Credit: NHS England High Consequence Infectious Diseases Network

Photo of Monkey Pox rash

Photo Credit: NHS England High Consequence Infectious Diseases Network

Photo of Monkey Pox rash

Photo Credit: NHS England High Consequence Infectious Diseases Network

Photo of Monkey Pox rash

Photo Credit: NHS England High Consequence Infectious Diseases Network

Photo of Monkey Pox rash

Photo Credit: NHS England High Consequence Infectious Diseases Network

View examples of mpox rashes here (

What should I do if I was exposed or have symptoms consistent with mpox?

New Yorkers who experience symptoms consistent with mpox, such as characteristic rashes or lesions, should contact their health care provider for a risk assessment. This includes anyone who traveled to countries where mpox cases have been reported or has had close contact with someone who has a similar rash, or who received a diagnosis of suspected or confirmed mpox.

If you have been diagnosed or suspect that you have mpox, contact your healthcare provider to get a referral to one of these mpox provider treatment network sites (outside of NYC) to be evaluated for potential treatment. Visit the treatment tab for more information on symptom management and treatment.

NYC residents can visit the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene's mpox webpage for information on what to do when experiencing mpox symptoms.

Is vaccination available to prevent mpox?

Yes. The two-dose JYNNEOS vaccine is available throughout NYS. Individuals who are more likely to be exposed to mpox or experience severe illness are encouraged to get vaccinated.

Is the JYNNEOS vaccine effective at preventing mpox?

There are promising data on the effectiveness of the JYNNEOS vaccine at preventing mpox from last year's outbreak. However, no vaccine is 100 percent effective. We are aware of instances of mpox infection after vaccination, including a group of individuals in Chicago who were infected with mpox after being vaccinated. There is also evidence that vaccination may reduce the severity of MPOX infection if a person is infected later. Completion of the two-dose JYNNEOS vaccine series remains one of our most vital tools to protect against mpox.

Patients should be informed that healthy practices continue to be important, including being aware of mpox symptoms, avoiding any sexual activity and physical non-sexual contact when feeling sick, and having open conversations with partners about vaccination history and symptoms before engaging in sexual activity.

Please see the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) mpox infection after vaccination webpage for more information.

Are there treatments available?

Antiviral medications exist to treat mpox, which may be appropriate for some people. Vaccines exist that can help reduce the chance and severity of infection in those who have been exposed.

New Yorkers diagnosed with mpox who develop a rash or skin lesions should be sure to:

  • Keep rash areas clean and dry to protect against secondary infections.
  • Be conscious of sun exposure to avoid discoloring exposed lesions.
  • Talk to a healthcare provider about over-the-counter oral antihistamines and topical agents such as calamine lotion, cortisone 10, petroleum jelly, and lidocaine cream or gels.
  • Consider over-the-counter stool softeners to help reduce peri-anal discomfort.

Individuals with mpox who experience a painful rash or skin lesion should talk with their healthcare provider about medication to help with pain management. Prescription medicated mouthwashes and topical gels can provide pain relief and keep rashes and lesions clean, and are widely available.

If you are a healthcare provider, please see NYSDOH's Provider Information page which includes the latest guidance for clinicians on mpox treatment.

Why are health officials concerned?

Health officials are concerned because we had a significant outbreak of mpox last year. Although the strain of mpox that circulated in the U.S. last year was rarely fatal, symptoms can be extremely painful, and people might have permanent scarring resulting from the rash.

What is NYSDOH doing to help?

NYSDOH has alerted New York health care providers so they have information regarding reporting, case testing, treatment, and vaccination, should any of their patients present with symptoms consistent with mpox.

NYSDOH, in partnership with local and federal public health authorities, will continue learning more and communicating openly with New Yorkers.

Why are cases classified as "confirmed orthopoxvirus/mpox" cases? What does orthopoxvirus have to do with mpox?

Specimens from suspected mpox cases are typically sent by New York providers to the New York State and New York City public health laboratories. These laboratories conduct testing for orthopoxvirus, the family of viruses to which mpox belongs.

Cases that are confirmed positive for orthopoxvirus are considered probable mpox cases because of the rarity of all orthopoxviruses, generally, and the presentation of symptoms, in confirmed orthopoxvirus cases, being consistent with mpox. Confirmed orthopoxvirus cases, or probable mpox cases, may be further confirmed as mpox through CDC testing.


Press Releases