There are no treatments specifically for mpox. But, since mpox and smallpox are from the same virus family, certain drugs and vaccines created for smallpox may be used to treat and prevent mpox infections. An antiviral drug called tecovirimat (TPOXX), may be recommended for people who are more likely to get severely sick, like people with weak immune systems.
NJDOH receives TPOXX from the federal government and provides it at no cost to healthcare providers for their patients. There may be other costs, however, associated with medical care. Patients should ask their healthcare provider about healthcare costs they will be responsible for and/or may also seek low-cost medical care at one of several Federally Qualified Healthcare Centers (FQHC) located around the state.
Most people with mpox do not need to be in a hospital and can recover at home. People with mpox should isolate away from others in the home until their rash has fully healed, the scabs have fallen off, and a fresh layer of intact skin has formed. People with mpox should follow these recommendations until cleared by state or local public health officials:
- Do not leave the home except as required for emergencies or follow-up medical care.
- Avoid close contact with others.
- Do not engage in sexual activity that involves direct physical contact.
- Do not share potentially contaminated items, such as bed linens, clothing, towels, wash cloths, drinking glasses or eating utensils.
- Washing hands with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand rub that’s at least 60% alcohol, should be done frequently by people infected with mpox and their household contacts after touching rash fluid/blisters/crusts/scabs, clothing, linens, or frequently-touched surfaces/objects that may have had contact with rash material.
- Routinely clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces and items, such as counters or light switches, etc. using an EPA-registered disinfectant (such as List Q) in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Wear well-fitting source control (e.g., medical mask) when in close contact with others at home. Caregivers should also wear an N95, also known as a respirator, or medical mask when they are within 6 feet of the person who is infected with mpox for more than a brief encounter.
- Avoid use of contact lenses to prevent spreading the infection to the eyes.
- Avoid shaving rash-covered areas of the body as this can lead to spread of the virus.
- If possible, use a separate bathroom if there are others who live in the same household.
- If there is not a separate bathroom in the home, the patient should clean and disinfect surfaces such as counters, toilet seats, and faucets, using an EPA-registered disinfectant (such as List Q) after using a shared space. This may include during activities like showering, using the toilet, or changing bandages that cover the rash. Consider disposable glove use while cleaning if rash is present on the hands.
Limit contamination within the household:
- Try to avoid contaminating upholstered furniture and other porous materials that cannot be laundered by placing coversheets, waterproof mattress covers, blankets, or tarps over these surfaces.
- Cover all skin rashes to the extent possible by wearing long sleeves or long pants. Gloves can be considered for covering rash on the hands when not in isolation, such as when receiving medical care.
- Additional precautions such as steam cleaning can be considered if there is concern about contamination.
- When possible, the person with mpox should change their own bandages and handle contaminated linens while wearing disposable gloves, followed by immediate handwashing after removing gloves and washing their hands.
- As a last resort, if assistance is needed with these activities, a household member should avoid extensive contact and wear, at a minimum, disposable medical gloves, and a well-fitting mask or N95. Any clothing that contacts the rash during dressing changes should be immediately laundered. Gloves should be disposed of after use, followed by handwashing.
Those at higher risk of exposure or severe health outcomes should consider reducing their number of sexual partners and limiting sex with new partners and should exchange contact details with any new partners to enable follow-up if needed.
Talk to your partner about any recent illness and be aware of any new or unexplained sores or rashes on your body or your partner’s body, including the genitals and anus. If you or your partner have recently been sick, are currently feeling sick, or have a new or an unexplained rash or sores, do not have sex and see a health care provider. This is always a good plan, even if mpox isn’t in your area.
If you or a partner has mpox, the best way to protect yourself and others is to not have sex of any kind (oral, anal, vaginal) and to not kiss or touch each other’s bodies while you are sick, especially any rash or sores. Do not share items such as towels, fetish gear, sex toys, and toothbrushes.
Will condoms protect me from mpox?
It is not known whether condoms prevent the transmission of mpox. If rashes are confined to the genitals or anus, condoms may help. Not all mpox rashes occur in areas that a condom can cover. The virus can also spread by respiratory droplets. Even when used, direct skin-to-skin contact with infectious rash, scabs, or body fluids not covered by a condom, and face-to-face contact can still occur. Therefore, condoms alone are probably not enough to prevent mpox. Condom use for prevention of mpox has not been studied.
Do people need to wear condoms if they have recovered from a mpox infection?
Scientists are still learning about the ability of the mpox virus to spread through body fluids such as semen or vaginal secretions and whether the virus can still be present after the skin rash has healed. Safe sex, barrier practices (i.e. wearing condoms) are recommended, but there is little data on the length of time patients need to wear condoms. Some other countries are recommending 8-12 weeks after the skin rash has healed, but more needs to be learned. As public health experts learn more about the spread of mpox this guidance will be updated.
When thinking about attending events, consider how much close, personal, skin-to-skin contact is likely to occur at the event you plan to attend. If you feel sick or have any rashes or sores, do not attend any gathering, and see a health care provider.
Safer gatherings include festivals, events, and concerts where people are fully clothed, and unlikely to share skin-to-skin contact. But keep in mind that close personal contact such as kissing can also spread mpox.
A rave, party, or club where there is minimal clothing and where there is direct, personal, frequent skin-to-skin contact has some risk. Avoid any rashes or sores you see on others and consider minimizing skin-to-skin contact when possible.
Enclosed spaces, such as back rooms, saunas, or sex clubs, where there is minimal or no clothing and where intimate sexual contact can occur, have a higher likelihood of spreading mpox.
Limiting your number of sex partners may reduce the possibility of exposure.