What is monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a contagious viral disease that is closely related to the one that causes smallpox, but the disease is generally less severe and less contagious. Unlike the COVID-19 virus, which was a virus that was not known until 2020, monkeypox is a well-known illness that was first recognized in research animals in 1958.

Prior to the current outbreak, this infection was only found occasionally in some countries in central and western Africa. Prior outbreaks outside of these countries were small and short-lived.

Is the virus in the United States? If so, how is VA addressing it?

On May 7, 2022, the world was alerted to a confirmed case of monkeypox in the United Kingdom. Since then, the virus has spread to many countries including the United States, and the World Health Organization has declared it a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

On Aug. 4, 2022, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) declared it a Public Health Emergency in the United States.

VA is working in close collaboration with local and state public health authorities, as well as other federal agencies like Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to ensure Veterans have access to testing, treatment and prevention tools, such as antivirals and vaccines.

In addition, VA is closely following clinical, infection control, and occupational health guidance provided by the CDC.

How does the virus spread?

Monkeypox spreads in a few ways.

  • It can spread to anyone through close, personal, often skin-to-skin contact, including:
    • Most commonly through direct contact with monkeypox rash, scabs or body fluids from a person with monkeypox.
    • Less commonly from touching objects, fabrics (clothing, bedding or towels), and surfaces that have been used by someone with monkeypox or with respiratory secretions.
  • This direct contact can happen during intimate contact, including:
    • Oral, anal and vaginal sex, or touching the genitals of a person with monkeypox.
    • Hugging, massage and kissing.
    • Prolonged face-to-face contact.
    • Less commonly in the current outbreak, through touching fabrics and objects during sex that were used by a person with monkeypox and that have not been disinfected, such as bedding, towels, fetish gear, and sex toys.
    • A pregnant person can spread the virus to their fetus through the placenta.

How long does it last?

Monkeypox normally takes about two weeks to four weeks to run its course. If you are diagnosed, your provider will monitor you until the illness is resolved.

Is it fatal?

The less severe Clade II strain is causing the current world outbreak (2022). To date, no one has died from this outbreak in the United States. But monkeypox can lead to other problems (complications) like pneumonia and infections in your brain (encephalitis) or eyes, which can be fatal.

Should I get tested?

Ask your health care provider if you should get a monkeypox test if you have symptoms (like an unexplained rash).

Can I get the vaccine at VA?

VA received an initial allocation of 13,000 vials (up to 65,000 doses) of JYNNEOS™ monkeypox vaccine from Department of Health and Human Services in August. VA will continue to receive additional allocation of vials of JYNNEOS™ to reduce the spread of monkeypox as more product is available within the supply chain.

What can you tell me about the vaccine?

For Veterans who need the vaccine, the series requires 2 doses per person, 28 days apart.

  • Due to the limited supply, and to ensure availability for Veterans who need it, most Veterans will receive their dose of the vaccine in the shallow layers between their skin (intradermal) on their forearm, as authorized by an FDA Emergency Use Authorization. This route, which is being used across the country, uses less vaccine per person and is safe and effective.
  • Some Veterans who have had a type of scarring called a “keloid” will get a dose in the upper arm that is injected in the layer of fat below the skin (subcutaneous).

Who is eligible for the monkeypox vaccine?

Any person who comes in direct skin-to-skin contact with another who is infected may catch monkeypox. The current outbreak has, for now, disproportionately affected the gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men who should be prioritized for vaccine based on their personal risk of exposure.

Contact your nearest VA health facility for the latest information.

By Ron Haskell

Director of Communication, Office of Patient Care Services

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Published on Aug. 29, 2022

Estimated reading time is 3.7 min.

Views to date: 8,362


  1. Edward Deal September 9, 2022 at 11:11 am

    what does it look like?

  2. Darryl Galman September 7, 2022 at 10:04 am

    Just love how everyone uses “WOKE” in the wrong terms. I agree the article could have mentioned the homosexual aspect a bit sooner, but nothing woke about it.

    Woke Definition & Meaning – Merriam-Websterhttps://www.merriam-webster.com › dictionary › woke
    The meaning of WOKE is aware of and actively attentive to important facts and issues (especially issues of racial and social justice).

  3. Gusto16 September 6, 2022 at 10:24 pm

    I think that the most important aspect of this type of information is to explain what the disease is then who is most affected then the treatment needed. I don’t gives a darn what the person sexual orientation. The same was said about AIDS and recently we were told that COVID only affected African Americans. So all you “macho men “need to start paying real attention and stop the distractions

  4. Rob September 6, 2022 at 5:45 pm

    Why not start with the end in mind? You wait to ‘inform’ ppl that this is primarily a concern in the male homosexual community. How woke is the VA?
    I’m glad to be AWAKE.

  5. Elizabeth Dillon September 5, 2022 at 4:27 pm

    Article lacks information on symptoms

  6. Samuel Irizarry September 2, 2022 at 8:52 pm

    I was born in 1951 and was vaccinated against smallpox this vaccine protects me against monkeypoxor.

  7. Betty Robinson September 2, 2022 at 4:12 pm

    Does the smallpox vaccine protect against monkeypox?

  8. Bob September 2, 2022 at 10:18 am

    Interesting. You wait until the end to mention the high risk group. THAT YOU SHOULD LEAD WITH and stop playing woke politics. Kinda says something about it, and the VA. Very Sad.

  9. John September 2, 2022 at 9:13 am

    The last sentence should be the first sentence. That this is primarily an illness of the gay community. Report the science.

  10. Ricardo Gomez September 2, 2022 at 7:05 am

    So we had to read this whole built-up article of fake news to get at the facts in the last few sentences. I am more than shocked to see at what lengths the military will now go to spread disinformation amongst the troops active, separated and or retired. We now have to consistently do fact checking on everything we read that comes from you. Sadly to say your mail is falling into the “junk” and “no trust” mail zone. Even have to leave tracking information for you to make a comment, name, email and url. Really!

  11. Cherie De Sues September 2, 2022 at 2:00 am

    I appreciate the information and will use precaution when shopping or mixing with any large groups of people. Not so much for monkeypox as I’m not in the high risk group, but for all the viruses that seem to be permeating the U.S. With polio, covid and killer pneumonia, I’ve received all my shots and feel fairly safe. Thank you V.A. medical system for always having my back. Great article. C. De Sues, Surgical First Assist

  12. James McGachey September 1, 2022 at 5:50 pm

    From everything I’ve researched, the main cause is male gay sex. Nice to see the VA is so woke they can’t lead with the main cause. Pathetic.

  13. Robert Borton September 1, 2022 at 2:18 am


    Instead of waiting until the very last sentence to mention only that monkeypox has “disproportionately affected gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men,” it should be listed under the heading “How does the virus spread” and be noted that 98% of all USA cases (17,000+) are from gay men having sex with each other. Monkeypox is NOT a worldwide threat for “normal” people. Nobody has died from monkeypox, but the “medical” community is again raising the fear factor. Many people die annually from peanut allergies, but it is NOT a worldwide threat.

    Note: the two cases of monkeypox diagnosed in children should be thoroughly investigated to see if gay men are doing the unthinkable to vulnerable children.

    Very Respectfully,
    Robert Borton

Comments are closed.

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