BMC’s Yawkey building doors are now closed as an entrance as part of our ongoing efforts to enhance our campus and provide you with the best clinical care.

All patients and visitors on our main campus must enter our hospital via Shapiro, Menino, or Moakley buildings, where they will be greeted by team members at a new centralized check-in desk before continuing to the hospital. We are excited to welcome you and appreciate your patience as we improve our facilities.

You may have seen recent headlines about an mpox (formerly known as monkeypox) outbreak throughout the United States and other countries that do not usually see cases of mpox. While the number of cases in Massachusetts is still low, we know you may have many questions about this disease. Read on to learn more about mpox, how it spreads, who’s most at risk, and whether vaccines are available.

Mpox Vaccine

Please click below to schedule a first mpox vaccine dose. 

Schedule Your Mpox Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions about Pox

What is mpox?

Mpox is a rare disease caused by the mpox virus. It’s related to smallpox, but symptoms are milder. For most people, symptoms can be very painful but go away on their own within two to four weeks.

Before 2022, all outbreaks of mpox occurred in central and western Africa, with all cases in other countries linked to places where mpox is more common. However, there is now an outbreak of mpox in many countries throughout the world, including the United States.

What are the symptoms of mpox?

Signs and symptoms of monkeypox include:

  • A rash, which will look like pimples or blisters at first and may be painful or itchy. This rash is usually on or near the genitals, anus, or mouth, but can be located anywhere on the body.
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Being very tired
  • Muscle aches
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Headaches
  • Sore throat or cough
  • Nasal congestion

Not everyone who has mpox has all these symptoms, although everyone will have a rash. Many people notice the rash first, but other symptoms can occur first.

How long do mpox symptoms last?

For most people, mpox symptoms will start within three weeks of being exposed to the virus. If you have flu-like symptoms first, a rash will usually appear a few days later. Overall, symptoms typically last around two to four weeks.

How does mpox spread?

Mpox spreads through close skin-to-skin contact, including:

  • Direct contact with a mpox rash or body fluids from someone with mpox. This includes vaginal, oral, and anal sex with a person with mpox, as well as hugging and kissing.
  • Touching objects, fabrics, and surfaces that someone with mpox has used, unless they have been disinfected.
  • Contact with mucus or spit from coughing (respiratory secretions) from a person with mpox. Right now, scientists are still learning how this works.

Pregnant people can also spread the mpox virus to their fetus.

Mpox can spread anytime from when symptoms start to when your rash has fully healed and a new layer of skin has formed over the scabs of the rash.

Who is most at risk for mpox?

Someone who has close contact, including sexual contact, or lives with a person who has mpox is most at risk for getting the virus. Having sustained skin-to-skin contact of any kind with other people can generally increase your risk.

Anyone can get mpox, but the majority of cases in the current outbreak have been in adult men who have sex with men.

It is unlikely that you will get mpox in a public place, such as on public transportation. But being unmasked in crowded places can increase your risk of getting any virus, including mpox.

How can I reduce my risk of getting mpox?

The best way to reduce your chance of getting mpox is to avoid skin-to-skin contact with someone with diagnosed mpox or someone who has any symptoms of mpox, including a rash. Also avoid sharing eating utensils, clothing, bedding, or other objects with a person with mpox.

For some people, reducing their number of sexual partners and encounters may be a good way to reduce their risk of mpox.

General practices to reduce your chances of getting any sort of virus will also reduce your risk of getting mpox. These include:

  • Washing your hand frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds at a time.
  • Avoiding contact with anyone who is sick.
  • Wearing a mask that covers your nose and mouth when in public indoor spaces.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces.

What should I do if I think I’ve been exposed to mpox?

If you have been, or might have been exposed to mpox, or have symptoms of mpox, call your health care provider. They can tell you what to do next and test you for mpox if necessary.

Until you see your doctor, avoid close contact with others if you can. If you can’t avoid close contact, be sure to let the other person know you were exposed to mpox or have symptoms of mpox. Regularly wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds at a time.

How is mpox diagnosed?

First, your doctor may try to rule out other conditions, such as chickenpox, because mpox is rare. However, mpox is more likely to cause swollen lymph nodes than other, similar conditions. They’ll also take a history or your symptoms and ask questions about your risks for mpox, including recent sexual history and potential exposures.

If your doctor suspects mpox, they’ll take a small sample from part of your rash and send it to a lab for testing. They may also take blood to check for the mpox virus. These two tests can tell your doctor if you definitely have mpox.

How is mpox treated?

There is no treatment specifically for mpox, but treatments developed for smallpox can be used to treat mpox. An antiviral medication like tecovirimat (TPOXX) may be recommended if you’re immunocompromised or have another condition that puts you at a higher risk of getting very sick from mpox.

But for most people, mpox will go away on its own, without treatment, within four weeks. Your doctor will monitor you while you’re sick and make sure that you don’t get any secondary infections.

Is mpox fatal?

To date, no one has died during the current outbreak of mpox, which is caused by a less severe type of the virus. But mpox can lead to other infections, like pneumonia, which can be fatal.

Can I get a mpox vaccine?

There is a vaccination for mpox called JYNNEOS. In Massachusetts, JYNNEOS is available only to people who live or work in the state and meet other eligibility criteria, including if you may have been exposed or may be exposed to monkeypox.

Current criteria for people who might have already been exposed to mpox include:

  • You have been identified as a close contact of someone with mpox.
  • You learn that one of your sex partners in the past two weeks has been diagnosed with mpox.
  • You are a man who has had sex with other men, or you are a transgender or nonbinary person, and in the past two weeks you have had:
    • Sex with multiple partners or group sex.
    • Sex at a commercial sex venue (like a sex club or bathhouse).
    • Sex at an event, venue, or in an area where mpox transmission is occurring.

Current criteria for people who might be exposed to mpox in the future include:

  • You are a man who has sex with other men, or if you are a transgender or nonbinary person and in the past six months have had any of the following:
    • A new diagnosis of one or more sexually transmitted diseases including acute HIV, chancroid, chlamydia, or gonorrhea
    • More than one sex partner.
  • You are a person who in the past six months has had any of the following:
    • Sex at a commercial sex venue (like a sex club or bathhouse)
    • Sex at an event, venue, or in an area where mpox transmission is occurring.
  • You are a person whose sexual partner identifies with any of the above scenarios.
  • You are a person who anticipates experiencing any of the above scenarios.

If you think that you should get the mpox vaccine, call your doctor or the BMC STD Clinic at 617-414-2803. They will help you figure out if you’re able to get the vaccine.

If you are eligible to get a mpox vaccine, you can make your own appointment at one of the locations throughout the state offering JYNNEOS.

Where can I find more information?