Have questions about monkeypox? We asked experts for answers

As if COVID-19, inflation and the economy weren’t enough, the rise in monkeypox cases has given Californians yet another thing to worry about.

The disease — characterized by a rash and lesions that can look like pimples, bumps or blisters — primarily spreads through prolonged skin-to-skin contact with those lesions, which may be in hard-to-see places on the body or be mistaken for some other skin issue. Although rarely fatal, the disease can be quite painful.

Monkeypox has gained a foothold among men and transgender people in the LGBTQ community in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has received a limited number of doses of monkeypox vaccine from the federal government, and is offering them only to people currently deemed at risk.

Right now, monkeypox cases are “approaching an exponential curve,” said Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious-disease expert at UC San Francisco. Nevertheless, for people outside the affected communities, the risk of catching monkeypox seems to be low at the moment. And if current vaccination efforts are successful, we may be able to wipe out monkeypox. But if it spreads to animals, the disease could become endemic in the United States.

How does monkeypox spread? How dangerous is it? How contagious is it? Can infected people with no symptoms pass on the disease to others? Can it be spread through the air? Who can get a vaccine? What can people do after they are fully vaccinated? What should people do to avoid getting monkeypox?

You have questions. We asked experts for answers.

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