Ver esta página en español

Mpox (Monkeypox)

Go to: Transmission | Prevention | Symptoms

Mpox is a contagious disease caused by the monkeypox virus. Anyone can get and spread mpox. Cases have spread through sex and other intimate contact among social networks of gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM); transgender people; gender-nonconforming people; and nonbinary people.

If you have a new or unexpected rash or sores, contact a health care provider.


In the recent outbreak, mpox spread almost exclusively through sexual contact.

Mpox has spread through:

  • Direct contact with a rash or sores of someone who has the virus, which is most common
  • Contact with clothing, bedding and other items used by a person with mpox
  • Prolonged face-to-face contact

The virus can also spread during oral, anal and vaginal sex and other intimate contact, such as rimming, hugging, kissing, biting, cuddling and massage.

It is not yet known whether mpox can spread through body fluids such as semen and saliva, or whether people can be contagious before symptoms begin.


You should get vaccinated against mpox if you may have been exposed or are at risk of exposure in the future. See the Vaccination page for more information about vaccination, including who is eligible and recommendations for who should get vaccinated.

The following can help reduce your risk of getting mpox from sex or intimate contact:

  • Reduce your number of partners, especially those you do not know or whose recent sexual history you do not know.
  • Ask your partners if they have mpox symptoms or feel sick. If you or your partners are sick, especially if you or they have a new or unexpected rash or sore, do not have sex or close physical contact.
  • Avoid sex parties, circuit parties and other spaces where people are having sex and other intimate contact with multiple people.
  • If you choose to have sex or other intimate contact while sick, cover all rashes and sores with clothing or sealed bandages. This may reduce spread from contact with the rash or sores, but other methods of transmission may still be possible.
  • Since it may be possible the virus can be transmitted through semen, use latex or polyurethane condoms during sex.
  • Do not share towels, clothing, fetish gear, sex toys or toothbrushes.
  • Wash your hands, fetish gear and bedding. Sex toys should be washed after each use or sex act.

Prevention Resources


Six images of lesions to help identify mpox rash
Photo credit: UK Health Security Agency

In the U.S., hospitalization and death from mpox are rare, but symptoms can still be painful and interfere with daily activities.

Symptoms usually start in three to 17 days. They can last for two to four weeks.

The most common symptom is a rash or sores that can look like pimples or blisters. These may be all over the body or just in certain parts, such as the face, hands or feet, as well as on or inside the mouth, genitals or anus. The rash and sores can be extremely itchy and painful, and sores in the anus or urethra can make it hard to go to the bathroom. Some people also have flu-like symptoms, such as sore throat, fever, swollen lymph nodes, headache and tiredness.

Complications can include inflammation of the lining of the rectum (proctitis), or sores that could result in scarring of the eye, mouth, anus, urethra or other body part.

We do not know if mpox causes long-term health problems.

If You Have Symptoms

If you start experiencing symptoms, even if they are mild, talk to your health care provider. If you do not have a health care provider, call 311 or search the NYC Health Map. A provider will check your symptoms and may order testing for mpox and other infections. Testing for mpox involves a provider taking a swab of a sore. Your provider can also prescribe treatment and pain management, if necessary.

For more information on care, treatment and the precautions you should take to keep yourself and others safe, visit What to Do When Sick.


These resources show data and cases from the mpox outbreak in NYC from May to December, 2022. Data include confirmed and probable cases of people who live in NYC. Cases of people who primarily reside outside of NYC are not included.

Additional Resources