Monkeypox: What you should know

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is tracking an outbreak of monkeypox that has spread across several countries that don’t normally report monkeypox, including the United States.

Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus, which is part of the same family of viruses as smallpox. While its symptoms are similar to smallpox, they are milder, and monkeypox is rarely fatal. Monkeypox is not related to chickenpox.

You can find more information on monkeypox in the FAQs below and through the Rhode Island Department of Health and the CDC.

Member FAQs

Monkeypox may cause flu-like symptoms and a rash. The rash can look like pimples or blisters that appear on the face, inside the mouth, and on other parts of the body, like the hands, feet, chest, genitals, or anus. You can find information about monkeypox symptoms on the CDC website.

If you have any symptoms of monkeypox, talk to your healthcare provider, even if you don’t think you had contact with someone who has monkeypox.

Unlike COVID-19, which spreads easily through the air, the monkeypox virus is spreading mostly through close, intimate contact with someone who has monkeypox. You can find more information on the CDC website.

You can find tips for protecting yourself on the CDC website, including how to lower your risk during sex, at social gatherings such as parties and festivals, and if you are exposed to someone with monkeypox.

CDC recommends vaccination for people who have been exposed to monkeypox and people who are at higher risk of being exposed to monkeypox. The vaccine is currently in short supply nationally.

If you believe you have been exposed to monkeypox, call your healthcare provider. If you do not have a healthcare provider and live in Rhode Island, call the Rhode Island Department of Health at (401) 222-2577 to coordinate care. If you live outside of Rhode Island, contact your local Department of Health.

You can find more information on monkeypox vaccination on the CDC website and the Rhode Island Department of Health website.

The CDC supplies vaccine to each state for administration. Your state’s Department of Health coordinates the availability of vaccines and administers them. There should be no cost to you for the vaccine. Currently, the vaccine is not available through pharmacies or doctors’ offices, but we will provide updated information as things change.

If you believe you have been exposed to monkeypox, call your healthcare provider. If you do not have a healthcare provider and live in Rhode Island, call the Department of Health at (401) 222-2577 to coordinate care. If you live outside of Rhode Island, contact your local Department of Health.

There are no treatments specifically for monkeypox virus infections. However, monkeypox and smallpox viruses are genetically similar, which means that antiviral drugs and vaccines developed to protect against smallpox may be used to prevent and treat monkeypox virus infections. Antivirals, such as tecovirimat (TPOXX), may be recommended for people who are more likely to get severely ill, like patients with weakened immune systems. Your state’s Department of Health coordinates the availability of these antivirals and administers them.

If you have symptoms of monkeypox, you should talk to your healthcare provider, even if you don’t think you had contact with someone who has monkeypox. If you do not have a healthcare provider and live in Rhode Island, call the Department of Health at (401) 222-2577 to coordinate care. If you live outside of Rhode Island, contact your local Department of Health.