Monkeypox (Mpox/MPX)

About Monkeypox (Mpox/MPX)

Monkeypox (Mpox/MPX) is a rare disease that is caused by infection with the Mpox virus. Mpox belongs to the Orthopoxvirus genus which includes the vaccinia virus which is used in the smallpox vaccine, variola (smallpox), and other pox viruses generally limited to animals. Mpox is currently of public health concern because while sporadic cases have popped up in the past, associated with residence or travel in endemic areas, its emergence in non-endemic areas and transmission human-human is new.  Mpox is less transmissible and usually far less severe than smallpox, and far less transmissible than other viruses such as chickenpox, measles - and COVID.

Over the last few months there has been an increase in reported cases where Mpox is not commonly seen, including in Europe, Canada, the United States, and California. While it's important to stay alert about any emerging public health outbreaks, the current risk of getting monkeypox in the general public is very low.   


Monkeypox (Mpox/MPX) might start with symptoms like the flu, with fever, low energy, swollen lymph nodes, and general body aches. Within 1 to 3 days (sometimes longer) after the appearance of fever, the person can develop a rash or sores. The sores will go through several stages, including scabs, before healing. They can look like pimples or blisters and may be painful and itchy. 

The rash or sores may be located on or near the genitals (penis, testicles, labia, and vagina) or anus (butt) but could also be on other areas like the hands, feet, chest, and face. They may also be limited to one part of the body.  

People with Mpox may experience all or only a few of these symptoms. Most will develop rash or sores. Some people have reported developing a rash or sores before (or without) the flu-like symptoms. Mpox can spread from the time symptoms start until all sores have healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed. This can take several weeks. 


Mpox spreads primarily through direct contact with infectious sores, scabs, or body fluids, including during sex, as well as activities like kissing, hugging, massaging, and cuddling. It can spread through touching materials used by a person with Mpox that hasn’t been cleaned, such as clothing and bedding. It can also spread by respiratory secretions during prolonged, close, face-to-face contact.     

  • Mpox can be spread through: 

    • Direct skin-skin contact with rash lesions
    • Sexual/intimate contact, including kissing
    • Living in a house and sharing a bed with someone
    • Sharing towels or unwashed clothing
    • Environmental surfaces, particularly when in dark, cool, and low humidity environments  (i.e. bathrooms, showers, toilet seats).
    • Respiratory secretions through prolonged face-to-face interactions (the type that mainly happens when living with someone or caring for someone who has monkeypox)
  • Mpox is NOT spread through:
    • Casual brief conversations
    • Walking by someone with Mpox, like in a grocery store   


There are several ways to prevent the spread, including: 

  • Always talk to your sexual partner/s about any recent illness and be aware of new or unexplained sores or rashes on your body or your partner’s body, including on the genitals and anus
  • Avoiding close contact, including sex, with people with symptoms like sores or rashes
  • Practicing good hand hygiene
  • People who become infected should isolate themselves until their symptoms are improving or have gone away completely.  The rash should always be well-covered until completely healed.
  • Using appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) (like a mask, gown, and gloves) when caring for others with symptoms
  • Avoiding contact with infected materials contaminated with the virus
  • Avoiding contact with infected animals 

What to do if you have had an exposure or symptoms

If you have had an exposure, have symptoms you are concerned about, or otherwise need to speak with someone about your risk, please reach out to your primary care provider for a phone or video appointment. 

  • Students can do this via eTang or by calling the 24/7 Nurse Advice Line at (510) 643-7197. 
  • Faculty and staff should reach out to their primary care provider.  

Vaccines (updated 12/1/22) 

Upcoming dates for Mpox vaccine appointment:

  • December: appointments are on Wednesdays and can be booked on eTang.

Updated vaccine criteria by CDPH: Any person who may be at risk for Mpox infection or persons who request vaccination may receive vaccination without having to report specific risk factors. 

Please note: if you already have symptoms of Mpox, you cannot receive the vaccine. 

Community Vaccine Locations:

The following locations have supplies of the Mpox / Jynneos vaccine by appointment only: 

  • San Francisco City Clinic: 628-217-6600
  • Strut: 415-581-1600
  • Some San Francisco Kaiser Permanente locations: 415-833-9999
  • San Francisco Immunization and Travel Clinic: 415-554-2625

For more information about the vaccine: