Mighty Blog

Monkeypox: what parents should know

By now you’ve probably heard of monkeypox in the news, on your social media channels or in conversation. But many people are wondering, what is it and should I be concerned for my kids?

What is monkeypox?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. Monkeypox virus is part of the same family of viruses as variola virus, the virus that causes smallpox.”

The science is clear – just as we recently saw with COVID-19 – monkeypox is a virus that can infect anyone in any age group. Monkeypox does not target people based on how they identify or who they love. Monkeypox spreads through close contact with someone with the virus. Get the basics from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH).


What are the symptoms of monkeypox?

The symptoms of monkeypox named by the CDC are:

  • A rash that may be located on or near the genitals (penis, testicles, labia and vagina) or anus (butthole) but could also be on other areas like the hands, feet, chest, face or mouth.
    • The rash will go through several stages, including scabs, before healing.
    • The rash can look like pimples or blisters and may be painful or itchy.
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle and back aches
  • And more.

While it’s likely you will get a rash if you get monkeypox, not all people do. You may only get some of the symptoms of the virus, which is rarely deadly.

How long does it take to heal from monkeypox?

The biggest issue families should be aware of is the time it takes for someone to be no longer infectious and not be able to spread it. Reports say it could take 3-4 weeks for the rash to heal.

Can kids get monkeypox?

One myth is that monkeypox is a sexually transmitted illness. It is not. While anyone can get monkeypox, even kids, it’s most commonly found in men who have sex with men. If a child comes in close physical contact with a person who has monkeypox, they can get it too.

How does monkeypox spread?

Because this virus spreads through close (and intimate) contact with another person with the virus, it can spread easily. The CDC says it can be spready through many ways:

  • Direct contact with the monkeypox rash.
  • Touching objects, fabrics (clothing, bedding, etc.) and surfaces that have been used by someone with the virus.
  • Sexual contact with someone with the virus (oral, anal and vaginal sex).
  • Things like hugging, getting a massage, wrestling, etc.
  • And more.

How is monkeypox different from COVID-19?

Monkeypox and COVID-19 are different – with monkeypox, there’s a much longer history of research and experience than what we’ve had with COVID.

We know monkeypox is primarily spread through direct contact with an infected person’s lesions, whether that be their skin or touching objects they touched (fabrics, towels, bedsheets, etc.). It’s important to note, it can be spread through the air, but that is not the main way monkeypox spreads.

Also, unlike COVID, health experts have not seen someone be infectious before they get sick. This means, if people stay home when they feel sick, get tested if they develop the skin rash and avoid contact with others if a rash appears, the spread of monkeypox spread can be limited.

What should you do if you suspect your child has monkeypox?

Not every rash is monkeypox, but you should go to your child’s pediatrician if your child is experiencing any symptoms of monkeypox. While not all rashes are a sign of monkeypox, this is one of the key indicators.

What is the treatment for monkeypox?

Because monkeypox and smallpox are genetically similar viruses, there are some vaccines out there to help treat the infection of monkeypox. So, some people are eligible to get a vaccine if they might have been infected. If you have symptoms of monkeypox, talk to your health care provider.

Tips for helping your family through the monkeypox outbreak

Get tips and advice from the kid experts at Children’s Minnesota for how to help your kids and teens through the monkeypox outbreak.

Learn more about monkeypox on WCCO

Dr. Gigi Chawla, chief of general pediatrics at Children’s Minnesota, talks about monkeypox on WCCO.

Alexandra Rothstein