Monkeypox Testing: Everything You Need to Know

Where to get tested for monkeypox and when

(RxWiki News) With the increase in monkeypox cases in the US, more and more questions arise, including questions about testing.

The US Department of Health and Human Services has declared monkeypox a public health emergency.

Cases continue to rise across the country. As of the time of publication, there were 21,274 reported cases of monkeypox in the United States, with California having the most cases. 

What we know: Monkeypox is similar to smallpox. Although monkeypox and smallpox symptoms are similar, monkeypox symptoms are milder.

When to Get Tested

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you should get tested if you notice a rash that acts and looks like monkeypox.

Initially, the rash looks like pimples or blisters that may be painful and itchy. You may notice the rash go through several stages, such as scabbing over before it heals. 

In terms of location, the rash may appear on or near the genitals. However, the rash can also show up on the chest, face, feet, hands or mouth.

If you believe you have monkeypox (you have the rash and other symptoms consistent with monkeypox) or have had close personal contact with someone who has monkeypox, the CDC recommends that you:

  1. Take precautions (stay away from other people and do not share things you have touched with others, including pets) to protect others.
  2. Call or visit a healthcare provider to help you decide if you need to be tested for monkeypox.

Where to Get Tested

Contact your local health department to find a testing location. 

Testing can only be done with an order from a healthcare provider.

Either the healthcare provider will take a specimen and send it for testing or you may be instructed to go to a lab to have them collect the specimen and test. 

The test consists of getting a specimen from your rash. The provider will use a swab to rub vigorously across several lesions of your rash.

The results may take a few days to come back.

When You Get Your Results Back

If your test result is positive, take the following steps:

  1. Notify your close contacts that they may have been exposed to monkeypox as soon as possible. 
  2. Take the recommended steps to manage your symptoms.
  3. Provide relief to your rash.
  4. Take steps to prevent the spread of monkeypox. Stay away from other people and do not share things you have touched with others, including pets. The CDC recommends that you stay at home if you have monkeypox symptoms — specifically, until your monkeypox rash has healed and a new layer of skin has formed. We know the virus spreads through direct contact with an infectious rash, body fluids, or when someone coughs, sneezes, talks or laughs.
  5. Disinfect your home. 

Your health care provider can provide recommendations on how best to manage your symptoms.

In terms of treatment, there is no treatment specifically for monkeypox. However, for some people who have a weakened immune system, antivirals, such as tecovirimat (TPOXX), may be prescribed.

Contact your healthcare provider if the pain and other symptoms become severe and can't be managed at home.

Typically, someone with monkeypox will recover fully within two to four weeks without the need for medical treatment.

Even if you have a a negative test result, the CDC still recommends that you take the needed steps to protect yourself and others.

If the test came back inconclusive, another test needs to be done again to get an adequate sample. 

If you have any questions, speak with your healthcare provider. 

Last Updated:
September 9, 2022