Mpox, also known as monkeypox, is a rare disease caused by the monkeypox virus, which belongs to the same virus family as the variola virus (smallpox). Mpox symptoms are similar to smallpox but milder. Mpox is rarely fatal, and it is not related to chickenpox. There is a vaccine available to eligible persons.
The mpox vaccine is now available in North Dakota.
Find an mpox vaccine
Where did mpox come from?
Mpox was discovered in 1958 when two outbreaks of a pox-like disease occurred in monkey colonies kept for research. Despite being named after “monkeypox,” the source of the disease is unknown. However, African rodents and non-human primates (like monkeys) might harbor the virus and infect people. The first human case of mpox was recorded in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1970. Before the 2022 outbreak, mpox had been reported in several central and western African countries. Previously, almost all mpox cases in people outside of Africa were linked to imported animals or to international travel to countries where the disease commonly occurs.
How does mpox spread?
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. Mpox can spread through touching items used by a person with mpox that haven’t been cleaned, such as clothing and bedding. It can also spread by respiratory secretions during prolonged, close, face-to-face contact. People with mpox are contagious from the time symptoms start until the rash has fully healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed. Mpox illnesses typically last 2-4 weeks. People who do not have symptoms cannot spread the virus to others.
Mpox is NOT spread through:
- Casual, brief conversations
- Walking by someone with mpox, like in a grocery store
What are the symptoms of mpox?
Symptoms of mpox include: fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes in your throat or groin, chills and exhaustion, and a rash can develop, often beginning on the face, which then spreads to other parts of the body, including the genitals.
If you have a new or unexplained rash or other symptoms, seek medical care for testing and evaluation. Avoid crowds and close contact with others, including sexual or intimate contact, until seeing your healthcare provider.
Who is most at-risk for mpox infection?
Anyone can get mpox. However, the risk of mpox in the United States is considered low, as mpox does not spread easily between people. Anyone in close contact with a person with mpox can get it and should take steps to protect themselves. People who do not have mpox symptoms cannot spread the virus to others.
In the current outbreak, the vast majority of transmission and cases have been among men who have sex with men. However, this does not mean mpox only occurs in this population.
Is there an mpox vaccine?
Yes! Two vaccines licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are available for preventing mpox infection – JYNNEOS (also known as Imvamune or Imvanex) and ACAM2000. In the U.S., there is currently a limited supply of JYNNEOS, although more doses are expected soon. There is an ample supply of ACAM2000. However, this vaccine shouldn't be used in people who have some health conditions, including a weakened immune system, skin conditions like atopic dermatitis/eczema, or pregnancy. No data is currently available yet on the effectiveness of these vaccines in the current outbreak.
At this time, the CDC does not recommend widespread vaccination against mpox. However, vaccination may be recommended for close personal contacts of people with mpox, and those who have been exposed to the virus. If you have questions regarding mpox and the mpox vaccine, contact your healthcare provider or check out North Dakota's eligibity and vaccine locator here.
Has mpox been found in North Dakota?
Yes. The first case of mpox was identified by the North Dakota Department of Health and Human Services on July 20, 2022. The individual likely acquired mpox while traveling out-of-state. As of February 7, 2023, there have been 6 mpox cases reported in North Dakota. For updated stats, check out the state data dashboard.