Monkeypox – What Workers Need to Know

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Human monkeypox is a viral disease caused by the monkeypox virus, which belongs to the same family of viruses as smallpox. Monkeypox symptoms are less severe than smallpox (eradicated in 1980), less contagious, and rarely fatal. Monkeypox is not related to chickenpox. Since May 2022, Monkeypox has started to spread globally, including in the United States.

While some facts are not known at this early date, this fact sheet provides information to help you understand monkeypox symptoms, how it spreads, and what to do to prevent spread once you are exposed. There are several aspects of monkeypox transmission that require more scientific research. The IBT Safety and Health Department will update important information as it becomes available.

Current US and Global Situation

A national ‘Public Health Emergency’ (PHE) has been declared due to an outbreak of monkeypox across the United States. Three states – IL, CA, and NY – have also declared a state of emergency. The CDC reports that monkeypox cases[1] are increasing daily.

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared monkeypox a ‘Public Health Emergency of International Concern’in July 2022,a term given to the most serious global disease outbreaks (COVID-19 and polio). Almost 40,000 cases of monkeypox have been reported in 93 countries, most of which do not normally report monkeypox. The rate of transmission is increasing in some parts of the world, including the U.S.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

People who think they have monkeypox or have had close personal contact with someone who has been infected with monkeypox should visit a healthcare provider to help them decide if they need to be tested.


Monkeypox spreads from person to person in a few ways:


ANYONE in close personal contact with a person with monkeypox can get it and should take steps to protect themselves[6]:



There is no treatment specifically for monkeypox. Because the viruses that cause monkeypox and smallpox are closely related, medication and vaccines developed to treat and protect against smallpox may be effective for monkeypox. The type of treatment for a person with monkeypox will depend on how sick someone gets or whether they’re likely to get severely ill.

Employer Responsibilities and Worker Protections

Workers in certain jobs and tasks may have an increased risk of occupational exposure to monkeypox. It is the employer’s responsibility to conduct a hazard assessment of the workplace and the workers’ tasks to determine if personal protective equipment (PPE) is deemed necessary.  The employer would be required to provide PPE to the employee at no cost, as well as provide training on how to use and maintain the PPE correctly per the Personal Protective Equipment standard promulgated in Title 29 Code of Federal Regulation Subpart I.

In healthcare settings, isolate infected patients from others who could be at risk for infection.

If you feel sick:

CDC does not currently have standalone workplace guidance for monkeypox. If a person is suspected of having Monkeypox in the workplace, CDC’s guidance, ‘Considerations for Reducing Monkeypox Transmission in Congregate Living Settings[11]’, can be applied to the workplace.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

For more information, contact the IBT Safety and Health Department at (202) 624-6960 and visit

[1] 2022 U.S. Map & Case Count

[2] Clinician FAQs | Monkeypox | Poxvirus | CDC

[3] How it Spreads | Monkeypox | Poxvirus | CDC

[4] Pets in the Home | Monkeypox | Poxvirus | CDC

[5] Isolation and Prevention Practices for People with Monkeypox | Monkeypox | Poxvirus | CDC

[6] “While anyone can catch monkeypox if they have close contact with someone who has monkeypox, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation, many of those affected in the current global outbreaks are gay, bisexual, or other men who have sex with men.” Technical Report: Multi-National Monkeypox Outbreak, United States, 2022 | Monkeypox | Poxvirus | CDC  

[7] Vaccines | Monkeypox | Poxvirus | CDC

[8] What to Do If You Are Sick | Monkeypox | Poxvirus | CDC

[9] Treatment | Monkeypox | Poxvirus | CDC

[10]Isolation and Prevention Practices for People with Monkeypox | Monkeypox | Poxvirus | CDC

[11]Congregate Living Settings | Monkeypox | Poxvirus | CDC