Monkeypox can be prevented by avoiding eating or touching animals known to acquire the virus in the wild (mainly African rodents and monkeys). Person-to-person transfer has been documented. Patients who have the disease should physically isolate themselves until all of the pox lesions have healed (lost their crusts), and people who are caring for these patients should use barriers (gloves and face masks) to avoid any direct or droplet contact. Caregivers should obtain a smallpox vaccination (see below).
Because smallpox and monkeypox are so closely related, studies have suggested that people vaccinated against smallpox have about an 85% chance of being protected from monkeypox. Consequently, the CDC recommends the following:
- Patients with depressed immune systems and those who are allergic to latex or smallpox vaccine should not get the smallpox vaccine.
- Anyone else who has been exposed to monkeypox in the past 14 days should get the smallpox vaccine, including children under 1 year of age, pregnant women, and people with skin conditions.
There is no commercially available vaccine designed specifically for monkeypox.