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CDC issues new monkeypox guidance as global cases surpass 1,000

What travelers need to know as the monkeypox virus spreads.

With more than 1,000 cases of monkeypox in 29 countries and at least 31 cases in the U.S., public health experts are urging travelers to be cautious. On Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention elevated its monkeypox travel alert to level 2, indicating that it's time to take precautions in certain situations.

The monkeypox virus spreads primarily through direct contact with a monkeypox rash or bodily fluids. It can also spread through respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact. Unlike with COVID-19, monkeypox doesn't appear to have asymptomatic transmission.

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CDC's monkeypox travel warning — explained

The monkeypox risk to the general public remains low, the CDC said. But the CDC also recommended that travelers, especially those traveling internationally, take some specific precautions:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick, including those who have genital or skin lesions. That means you should avoid sexual contact with anyone who's sick as well as hugging, kissing, touching and sharing utensils.
  • Avoid contact with dead or live wild animals. That includes small mammals, like rodents, as well as non-human primates, such as monkeys and apes.
  • Don't eat or prepare meat from wild animals in Africa (bushmeat).
  • Don't use products, like lotions or powders, that are derived from wild animals in Africa.
  • Avoid contact with materials used by sick people or animals, like bedding or clothing. Those items may be contaminated.
  • As always, practice good hand hygiene. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or hand sanitizer. Avoid touching your face when possible. But if you need to touch your face, make sure your hands are clean first.

If you develop a new unexplained rash on any part of your body, you should seek medical care immediately, the CDC says. The CDC also says anyone infected with monkeypox should be isolated from others. Monkeypox symptoms also can include fever and fatigue, along with the rash, but not everyone experiences theses.

Experts are still investigating how the monkeypox virus is spreading in the U.S. and internationally. So far, genetic sequencing indicates there are at least two separate variants of the virus spreading, which suggests that it's been circulating for longer than officials originally realized.