Your monkeypox questions, answered

·2 min read
Los Angeles, CA - August 10: Luis Garcia, a registered nurse, prepares Monkeypox virus vaccine at St.John's Well Child & Family Center on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022 in Los Angeles, CA. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
Luis Garcia, a registered nurse, prepares the monkeypox virus vaccine at St. John's Well Child & Family Center in Los Angeles. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

6:19 p.m. Aug. 22, 2022: This story has been updated to include expanded eligibility information from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

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're fully vaccinated? What should people do to avoid getting monkeypox?

You have questions. We asked experts for answers.

Have more inquiries about monkeypox? Send us an email at

With additional reporting by Rong-Gong Lin II, Luke Money, Taryn Luna and Melody Gutierrez.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.