The University of Chicago Medicine is working with public health authorities and community partners to provide testing and vaccination for monkeypox (mpv), a serious viral infection that spreads through respiratory drops and skin-to-skin contact. Monkeypox is part of the same family as other poxviruses including smallpox (orthopoxviridae) and was first discovered in humans in 1970.

Monkeypox testing is available at UChicago Medicine locations across the Chicagoland area. However, vaccines are currently limited and only available to patients who meet criteria outlined by state and federal authorities. We will continue to expand services as additional vaccination resources are allocated to us.

Q&A: What you should know about monkeypox: UChicago Medicine's leading infectious diseases specialists discuss symptoms, treatment and vaccination

How to Get Tested for Monkeypox

Monkeypox testing is widely available across Chicago and at all outpatient UChicago Medicine locations. However, we recommend patients request appointments with their primary care provider, an infectious diseases specialist, a dermatologist or our urgent care or sexual wellness clinics.

Call 1-800-824-0200 to schedule an appointment, or send a message to your primary care provider through MyChart.

You can also visit the Chicago Department of Public Health for a list of testing sites near you.

During your appointment, your health care provider will examine your skin and ask questions about your exposure risk and health history to determine if they think you may need a monkeypox test. Then they will use a cotton swab to collect cells from fluid-filled lesions on your skin. This is the only way to test for monkeypox. Without a lesion or a rash, you will not be able to get a monkeypox test.

How to Seek Medical Care If You Think You Have Monkeypox

Monkeypox causes a rash or red spots on your skin. These spots grow over time and become blister-like lesions that remain infectious until they scab over and fall off, which can take up to a month. Unlike acne or other skin rashes, monkeypox lesions are generally the same size and develop at the same rate. These painful pustules can grow on the face, hands, legs, feet or genitals in addition to other areas of the body. Sometimes this rash is mistaken for a sexually transmitted infection or STI.

If you think you have monkeypox or have tested positive for monkeypox, you should remain in isolation as much as possible to avoid spreading the virus to others. But in certain instances, you may need to seek medical care — either to get a monkeypox test or because you need additional treatment.

In those cases, you should make sure you:

  • Wear a mask.
  • Wear gloves.
  • Wear long sleeves, socks, and pants or other clothing that covers as much skin as possible.
  • Apply bandages to as many exposed lesions on your face, neck, or ears as possible if they cannot be covered by clothing.
  • Call ahead to let your healthcare provider to let them know you are coming, if possible, and let the front desk reception know right away once you arrive. They may need to make special provisions for your arrival and medical care.

Anyone who has monkeypox symptoms should get a monkeypox test.

In most cases, people with monkeypox will be able to recuperate safely at home while isolating and using over-the-counter medications to manage their symptoms. However, some people may require additional medical support. Make sure you speak with your healthcare provider if you:

  • Are immunocompromised
  • Have monkeypox lesions near or inside your eye, mouth, or a body cavity
  • Experience painful lesions or swollen lymph nodes
  • Notice your lesions begin to bleed or bruise

Get Vaccinated Against Monkeypox

Vaccines can help keep you safe from monkeypox infections and provide protection before and after a monkeypox exposure.

There are currently two types of monkeypox vaccine available in the U.S., however, both are in very limited supply. As a result, these immunizations are only available to those who meet criteria outlined by state and federal authorities. The vaccine is not currently recommended for the general public or people without certain monkeypox risk factors. We will continue to expand services as additional vaccination resources are allocated to us.

UChicago Medicine is currently authorized to offer monkeypox vaccines to the following groups of current patients:

  • People who have had close, intimate contact with someone who’s been diagnosed with monkeypox in the past 14 days
  • Gay and bisexual cisgender or transgender men who:
    • Have sex with men in social venues
    • Have multiple or anonymous male sex partners
    • Give or receive money, goods and services in exchange for sex

UChicago Medicine patients who qualify for a monkeypox vaccine should contact their primary care provider to see about obtaining a vaccine. If you qualify for a monkeypox vaccine but are not a patient at UChicago Medicine, you should contact your local public health department or a community/sexual wellness clinic. The Chicago Department of Public Health maintains a list of monkeypox vaccination sites in Chicago.

Monkeypox Q&A with UChicago Medicine's leading infectious diseases specialists: Learn more about how to protect yourself