Monkeypox Call Center FAQs

1. What is Monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. Monkeypox virus is part of the same family of viruses as the orthopox virus, the virus that causes smallpox. Monkeypox symptoms are like smallpox symptoms, but milder, and monkeypox is rarely fatal.

2. How is Monkeypox spread?

Monkeypox spreads in different ways. The virus can spread from person-to-person through direct contact with the infectious rash, scabs, or body fluids. It also can be spread by respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact, or during intimate physical contact, such as
kissing, cuddling, or sex. In addition, pregnant people can spread the virus to their fetus through the placenta.

Touching items (such as clothing or linens) that previously touched the infectious rash or body fluids of an infection person is another way monkeypox spreads. It’s also possible for people to get monkeypox from infected animals, either by being scratched or bitten by the animal or by eating meat or using products from an infected animal.

People who do not have monkeypox symptoms cannot spread the virus to others. Monkeypox can spread from the time symptoms start until the rash has fully healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed. The illness typically lasts 2-4 weeks.

3. Am I at risk to get monkeypox?

At this time, the risk of monkeypox in the United States is believed to be low. Monkeypox does not spread easily between people; however, anyone in close contact with a person with monkeypox can get it and should take steps to protect themselves. People who do not have monkeypox symptoms cannot spread the virus to others.

4. How can monkeypox be prevented?

Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash that looks like monkeypox:

  • Do not touch the rash or scabs of 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.
  • In Central and West Africa, avoid contact with animals that can spread monkeypox virus, usually rodents and primates. Also, avoid sick or dead animals, as well as bedding or other materials they have touched.
  • If you are sick with monkeypox:
    • Isolate at home
    • If you have an active rash or other symptoms, stay in a separate room or area away from people or pets you live with, when possible.

Vaccines can be effective tools at protecting people against monkeypox illness when properly administered before or after a recent exposure. Currently, the vaccine is recommended for individuals with close contact with a known case and those at high risk to develop the disease.

5. What are symptoms of Monkeypox?

Symptoms of monkeypox can include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches and backache
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Chills
  • Exhaustion
  • A rash that can look like pimples or blisters that appears on the face, inside the mouth, and on other parts of the body, like the hands, feet, chest, genitals, or anus.

Illness typically lasts 2-4 weeks. Sometimes, people get a rash first, followed by other symptoms. Others only experience a rash.

6. What do I do if I have symptoms?

See a healthcare provider if you notice a new or unexplained rash or other monkeypox symptoms.

  • Remind the healthcare provider that monkeypox is circulating.
  • Avoid close contact (including intimate physical contact) with others until a healthcare provider examines you.
  • Avoid close contact with pets or other animals until a healthcare provider examines you.
  • If you’re waiting for test results, follow the same precautions.
  • If your test result is positive, stay isolated until your rash has healed, all scabs have fallen off, and a fresh layer of intact skin has formed.

The Call Center Agent should transfer the call to Epidemiologist or AH hotline.

7. What treatment is available?

There are no treatments specifically for monkeypox virus infections. However, because of genetic similarities in the viruses, antiviral drugs used to treat smallpox may be used to treat monkeypox infections. Antivirals, such as tecovirimat (TPOXX), may be recommended for people who are more likely to get severely ill, such as patients with weakened immune systems.

8. Is there a vaccine to prevent monkeypox?

Because monkeypox and smallpox viruses are genetically similar, vaccines developed to protect against smallpox viruses may be used to prevent monkeypox infections. Jynneos is a two-dose vaccine available to people who have been directly exposed to monkeypox and/or are at high risk for catching disease. It is a two-dose vaccine given 1 month apart. If given within 4 days of exposure to monkeypox, it has 85% efficacy in prevention of disease. However, it is still recommended if given after four days but before 14 days because it can help prevent severity of disease.

9. Do I need to get vaccinated against monkeypox?

CDC recommends vaccination for people who have had certain types of exposures to people with monkeypox as well as for people who are at higher risk of being exposed to monkeypox, including:

  • People who have been identified by public health officials as a contact of someone with monkeypox
  • People who may have been exposed to monkeypox, such as:
    • People who are aware that one of their sexual partners in the past 2 weeks has been diagnosed with monkeypox
    • People who had multiple sexual partners in the past 2 weeks in an area with known monkeypox
  • People whose jobs may expose them to orthopoxviruses, such as:
    • Laboratory workers who perform testing for orthopoxviruses
    • Laboratory workers who handle cultures or animals with orthopoxviruses
    • Some designated healthcare or public health workers

Talk to your healthcare provider if you think you have been exposed to monkeypox or are at high risk for exposure.

10. Can I get the vaccine from HCPH?

Yes, if you have been directly exposed to someone with monkeypox or think you are at high risk, please call our hotline at 832-927-0707. We will work with you to determine whether you are a candidate and provide vaccination as appropriate.

11. My patient may need a monkeypox test. How can I get it?

Currently, testing is available in commercial labs such as LabCorp, and recently Mayo Clinic. The testing capacity will be further expanded soon. If you are a provider and you suspect monkeypox in your patient, please order the test for your patient at LabCorp or contact your local health department to assist with testing.

12. Could my pet get monkeypox?

Monkeypox is zoonotic, meaning it can spread between animals and people. However, CDC does not currently believe that monkeypox poses a high risk to pets. We are continuing to monitor the situation closely.

13. How do I report a case of monkeypox?

  • Monkeypox cases are immediately reportable upon suspicion.
  • Report persons under investigation, cases of monkeypox, or laboratory reports to HCPH immediately by faxing reports to (713)-439-6306, sending an e-mail to, or calling (713)-439-6000
    • Agent should transfer call to Epidemiologist or AH call

14. What if I have been exposed to monkeypox?

In consultation with their healthcare provider, people at higher risk for infection may consider vaccination with an available monkeypox vaccine. People who may be at higher risk include but are not limited to those who:

  • Had contact with someone who had a rash that looks like monkeypox or someone who was diagnosed with confirmed or probable monkeypox
  • Had skin-to-skin contact with someone in a social network experiencing monkeypox activity; this includes men who have sex with men who meet partners through an online website, digital application (“app”), or social event such as at a bar or party
  • Traveled outside the United States to a country with confirmed cases of monkeypox or where monkeypox activity has been ongoing
  • Had contact with a dead or live wild animal or exotic pet that exists only in Africa or used a product derived from such animals (such as game meat, creams, lotions, or powders.)

Agent should transfer call to Epidemiologist or AH call

15. What should I do if I have monkeypox?

  • Isolate at home
  • If you have an active rash or other symptoms, stay in a separate room or area away from people or pets you live with, when possible.

Resources for Common Questions

Useful PHONE NUMBERS Hcph Stacked

Harris County Public Health 

  • Main Office: 713-439-6000
  • County Attorney: 832-839-6941
  • Harris County Judge’s Office: 713-274-7000
  • HCPH Media Line: 713-439-6911
  • HCPH Clinic Call Center: 832-927-7350 (general wellness)
  • Epi After Hours Operator: 713-755-5050
  • Mental Health Line: 833-251-7544/ 800-273-8255
  • Social Service Needs: 211

Local Health Departments

  • Houston Health Department (HHD/COH)
    • COVID-19 Hotline: 832-393-4220
    • Report Positive Case: 832-393-5080
    • Overdue 2nd dose: 832-393-5190
  • Fort Bend County Health Department: 281-633-7795
  • Montgomery County: 936-523-3916
  • Galveston County: 409-938-7221
  • Brazoria County: 979-864-2168
  • Chambers County: 409-267-2731
  • Beaumont City Health Department: 409-839-4208
  • Austin, Colorado, Liberty, Matagorda, Walker, Waller, Wharton: 713-767-3000
  • List of Local Health Departments
  • National Directory of Local Health Departments

Additional Phone Numbers

  • Harris Health Ask My Nurse: 713-634-1110
  • eTrueNorth Tech Support: 1-800-635-8611
  • United Memorial Medical Center (UMMC): 866-333-26843
  • Department of State Health Services (DSHS): 877-570-9779
  • PWNHealth (Walgreens Testing): (888) 362-4321 or