Heard about monkeypox?
You may have heard about monkeypox in the news recently. But what is it, what are the symptoms and how can you access help and information?
Monkeypox is a rare illness caused by the monkeypox virus and one of the symptoms is a rash that is sometimes confused with chickenpox.
How is it passed on?
The virus can be passed on if there is close physical contact between people through:
- Kissing, skin-to-skin contact or having sex with someone with the monkeypox rash·
- Touching or sharing things like clothing, bedding or towels used by someone with the monkeypox rash
- Touching monkeypox skin blisters or scabs
- The coughs or sneezes of a person with the monkeypox rash
Once infected it usually takes between five and 21 days for the first symptoms to appear. Symptoms include recent unexpected/unusual spots, ulcers, or blisters anywhere on your body, fever, headaches, muscle aches, swollen glands, chills, and exhaustion.
A rash can develop, often beginning on the face, then spreading to other parts of the body.
The rash is sometimes confused with chickenpox. It starts as raised spots, which turn into small blisters filled with fluid. These blisters eventually form scabs which later fall off.
Monkeypox is usually mild, and most people recover within a few weeks without treatment but as the infection can spread through close contact, it's important to isolate if you're diagnosed with it.
You may be asked to isolate at home if your symptoms are mild. Information for people who have been diagnosed with monkeypox and who have been advised to self-isolate at home can be found on the UKHSA website. Search: monkeypox infected isolating at home
If your symptoms are severe or you're at higher risk of getting seriously ill (for example, if you have a weakened immune system), you may need to stay in a specialist hospital until you recover.
You may be offered a vaccination to reduce the risk of getting seriously ill.
Contact a sexual health clinic if you have a rash with blisters and have been either:
- in close contact, including sexual contact, with someone who has or might have monkeypox (even if they’ve not been tested yet) in the past 3 weeks
- to West or Central Africa in the past 3 weeks
Tell the person you speak to if you've had close contact with someone who has or might have monkeypox, or if you've recently travelled to central or west Africa.
Do not go to a clinic without contacting us first. Stay at home and avoid close contact with other people until you've been told what to do.
If you are not able to contact a sexual health clinic you should call 111.
More information regarding vaccination for monkeypox will be added to this page once vaccination becomes available.