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The first case of mpox in humans was recorded in 1970 and has been present in many central and western African countries since, but the current outbreak is being monitored as it presents and spreads in different ways than has been seen in the past. In May of 2022, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) began tracking a global mpox outbreak.
Mpox is a rare disease caused by an orthopox virus that is spread through close physical contact, such as skin-to-skin contact or prolonged face-to-face contact with someone that has mpox.
While mpox is not a sexually transmitted infection it can be spread through intimate skin-to-skin contact. It can also be spread through contact with items that have been used by someone with mpox.
Anyone can get mpox, but this outbreak is affecting men that have sex with men at a higher rate. Mpox can only be spread from someone that has symptoms. This type of mpox is rarely fatal, but can cause extremely painful symptoms.
Mpox symptoms usually appear 1 to 2 weeks after exposure and can include a rash that can look like pimples or blisters and flu-like illness. Symptoms can be extremely painful and usually last 2 to 4 weeks.
The rash will go through several stages, including scabs, before healing; and the rash can initially look like pimples or blisters and may be painful or itchy.
Other symptoms of mpox can include:
You may experience all or only a few symptoms
The mpox virus can be spread from the start of symptoms until the rash is fully healed. Most cases of monkeypox will recover on their own, however, some infections may result in hospitalization with children and immunocompromised individuals being at higher risk of severe infection.
If you are sick with mpox, isolate at home and if you have an active rash or other symptoms, stay in a separate room or area away from people or pets you live with, when possible.
Learn more about signs and symptoms.
The Jynneos vaccine can prevent mpox or reduce the severity of illness if given within two weeks of exposure. The vaccine is well-tolerated and consists of two doses separated by at least 28 days.
The Pandemic Operations Center is providing free vaccinations to high-risk individuals aged 18 and older. The Jynneos vaccine is available for individuals who self-identify as meeting the following criteria:
To schedule an appointment for vaccination, call the Pandemic Operations Call Center at 910-798-6601.
If you think you may have been exposed to a person with mpox or if you are experiencing a new, unexplained skin rash, with or without a flu-like illness, contact a healthcare provider immediately to be tested.
Testing is available at some local healthcare providers and urgent cares (call in advance to ask if testing is available). In addition, New Hanover County Public Health has tests available and to schedule an appointment, call 910-367-2484.
Testing is completed by obtaining a swab of the rash that is sent to the state or other contracted lab for processing.
If you think you may have mpox, isolate at home and if you have an active rash or other symptoms, stay in a separate room or area away from people or pets you live with, when possible.
In addition to receiving the vaccine if you are eligible, health officials encourage the community to practice the following three steps to prevent getting mpox:
The CDC also encourages individuals to temporarily change some behaviors that may increase risk of being exposed, including safer sex practices. More information is available on the CDC's website.