The virus is not a sexually transmitted infection. It’s mostly caught through close physical skin-to-skin contact, which is why it can be spread to sexual partners.
Monkeypox spreads by:

  • large respiratory droplets via prolonged face-to-face contact
  • contact with bodily fluids
  • contact with contaminated objects or surfaces (like clothing and bedding)

Monkeypox symptoms are usually mild, and many patients may not feel sick at all. The incubation period for monkeypox ranges from 7 to 17 days. Symptoms to look out for include:

  • Rash with fluid-filled bumps (esp. on the face, palms, arms, legs, genitals, or perianal region)
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches and backache
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Exhaustion

You are infectious from initial symptoms until all the bumps crust and fall off, which may take 2-4 weeks.


  • If you have flu-like symptoms and an unexplained rash, you should contact a healthcare provider as soon as possible.
  • If you only have flu-like symptoms (with no rash), please get tested for COVID-19.

The CDC recommends the following practices to protect yourself from monkeypox:

  • Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash that looks like monkeypox
  • Do not touch the rash or scabs of a person with monkeypox
  • Do not kiss, hug, cuddle or have sex with someone with monkeypox
  • Do not share eating utensils or cups with a person with monkeypox
  • Do not handle or touch the bedding, towels, or clothing of a person with monkeypox
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer

You can find more information at NC DPH: Monkeypox (