Monkeypox, a disease caused by infection with monkeypox virus, is a rare disease and does not naturally occur naturally in the US. Cases of monkeypox have recently been identified in some countries where the virus is not typically found, including in the US, and appear to have spread through human-to-human contact. Monkeypox can spread person-to-person through:

  • direct contact with the infectious rash, scabs, or body fluids
  • respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact, or during intimate physical contact, such as kissing, cuddling, or sex
  • touching items (such as clothing or linens) that previously touched the infectious rash or body fluids

See the site for continual updates.

Information from the CDC

Symptom onset ranges from 5-21 days

Early signs may include fever, muscle aches, headache, swollen lymph nodes, exhaustion, and sometimes cough or sore throat. A rash may develop often beginning on the face and spreads to other parts of the body, including the hands, feet, eyes, mouth and/or genitals. Rashes may vary in severity between people and change in appearance through infection. Infections can last two to four weeks.

Skin lesions typically begin to develop simultaneously, may appear anywhere on the body, and change from being flat to bumps to blisters before scabbing over and resolving.

Many individuals infected with monkeypox virus have a mild, self-limiting disease with the symptoms lasting from 2 to 4 weeks in the absence of therapy. Monkeypox is usually a self-limited disease. Severe cases can occur.

What is the current general risk?

  • Monkeypox cases are currently spreading within social networks through sexual and other close contact activities.
  • Monkey pox is generally NOT spread through casual interactions such as in workplace and classroom settings. The risk to the general population remains very low.

What is the criteria for increased risk?

The LA County Dept. of Public Health has identified specific populations at higher risk. Of these populations, individuals who meet specific criteria—immunocompromised individuals, including those with advanced or uncontrolled HIV; individuals with a diagnosis of gonorrhea and/or early syphilis within the past 12 months; individuals on HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) medication; individuals who have had anonymous sex or sex with multiple partners within past 21 days—are prioritized for vaccination.

  1. Gay or bisexual men and transgender persons who had multiple or anonymous sex partners in the last 14 days
  2. Persons confirmed by LAC DPH to have high- or intermediate-risk contact with a confirmed monkeypox case
  3. Persons who attended an event/venue where there was high risk of exposure to an individual(s) with confirmed monkeypox through skin-to-skin or sexual contact.
  4. Persons experiencing homelessness (PEH) with high-risk behaviors
  5. High risk cohorts identified by clinical staff in the LA County Jail system

Is there guidance on hygiene and environmental safety?

Yes. Please see the monkeypox information sheet from USC Environmental Health and Safety. A workplace-specific hygiene guidance sheet is recommended reading for USC employees.

What should I do if I think I might have been exposed, or have symptoms?

The risk to the US population remains low. Those who experience symptoms consistent with monkeypox, such as characteristic rashes or lesions, or have been exposed to someone with monkeypox should immediately isolate themselves and should contact their health care provider for a risk assessment; you can also call DPH at 2-1-1 for assistance if you do not have a regular provider. This includes anyone who traveled to countries where monkeypox cases have been reported or has had close contact, including sexual contact, with someone who has a similar rash or received a diagnosis of suspected or confirmed monkeypox.

I’m a USC student, can I get tested on campus?

Yes, evaluation and testing is available through USC Student Health. Make a medical appointment through MySHR or call 213-740-9355 (WELL).

Is the monkeypox vaccine available to me?

Specific populations may be at increased risk for contracting monkeypox and are eligible for vaccination. Please visit the LA County Monkeypox website for current availability and eligibility. As vaccines are currently in limited supply in LA County, individuals are encouraged to sign up for the LA County Monkeypox Newsletter to receive updates on vaccine availability.


Updated August 11, 2022.

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