North Central District Health Department
North Central District Health Department
"Caring for our communities"

Monkeypox outbreak 2022

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. Monkeypox symptoms are similar to smallpox symptoms, but milder, and monkeypox is rarely fatal. Monkeypox is not related to chickenpox.

Monkeypox was discovered in 1958 when two outbreaks of a pox-like disease occurred in colonies of monkeys kept for research. Despite being named “monkeypox,” the source of the disease remains unknown. However, African rodents and non-human primates (like monkeys) might harbor the virus and infect people.

The first human case of monkeypox was recorded in 1970. Prior to the 2022 outbreak, monkeypox had been reported in people in several central and western African countries. Previously, almost all monkeypox cases in people outside of Africa were linked to international travel to countries where the disease commonly occurs or through imported animals. These cases occurred on multiple continents.

What to do if you think you have monkeypox:

  • See a healthcare provider if you notice a new or unexplained rash or other monkeypox symptoms.
  • 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.
  • Follow the guidance of your healthcare provider for testing and treatment options.​​​

For a printable, one-page need-to-know guide, click here.


Call the toll-free Monkeypox Hotline (844) 520-6670 for answers to general monkeypox questions.​

Visit the CDC's monkeypox page
Kentucky Department of Public Health monkeypox page