Monkeypox

Help, advice and information about the current Monkeypox situation.

Regular updates are posted on GOV.UK, including the latest number of cases detected in England. 

Monkeypox is a rare illness caused by the monkeypox virus and one of the symptoms is a rash that is sometimes confused with chickenpox.

What is monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a viral infection, which is spread when someone comes into close contact with an infected person. It is usually a mild illness and most people recover within a few weeks without treatment. However, severe illness can occur in some individuals, including those with severe immunosuppression.

How is monkeypox spread?

Monkeypox can be spread when someone comes into close contact with an infected person. The virus can enter the body through broken skin, the respiratory tract or through the eyes, nose or mouth. It can be passed on through close physical contact like kissing, skin-to-skin, sex or sharing things like clothing, bedding and towels.

Monkeypox can affect anyone. The risk to the UK population remains low, but we are asking people to be alert to any new rashes or lesions on any part of their body. Although this advice applies to everyone, the majority of the cases identified to date have been among men who are gay, bisexual and men who have sex with men (MSM), so we are asking these groups in particular to be aware of the symptoms, particularly if they have recently had a new sexual partner.

What are the symptoms?

If you get infected with monkeypox, it usually takes between five and 21 days for the first symptoms to appear.

Signs and symptoms

  • Recent unexpected/unusual spots, ulcers or blisters anywhere on your body
  • Fever
  • Muscle aches
  • Chills and exhaustion
  • Headaches
  • Swollen glands

A rash can develop, often beginning on the face, then spreading to other parts of the body. The rash changes and goes through different stages – a bit like chicken pox – before finally forming a scab, which later falls off.

What should you do if you have symptoms?

Contact a sexual health clinic if you have a rash with blisters and you’ve 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 sexual health clinic without contacting them first. Stay at home and avoid close contact with other people until you've been told what to do.

Find a sexual health clinic. Please ensure you call a clinic before visiting.

Your call or discussion will be treated sensitively and confidentially.

If you are not able to contact a sexual health clinic you should call 111.

How can it be treated?

Treatment for monkeypox is mainly supportive, but newer antivirals may be used. The illness is usually mild and most of those infected will recover within a few weeks without treatment. High-quality medical and nursing supportive care will be provided to individuals to manage symptoms, where necessary.

How are rising cases being managed?

Monkeypox is usually associated with travel to Central or West Africa, but cases have been occurring in England with no travel links. The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) is therefore working closely with the NHS and other stakeholders to urgently investigate where and how recent confirmed monkeypox cases were acquired, and how they may be linked.

UKHSA and the NHS have well established and robust infection control procedures for dealing with cases of imported infectious disease and these are being strictly followed. UKHSA has an extensive surveillance network in place and their health protection teams are contacting contacts of confirmed cases to provide advice and guidance.

Further information

Regular updates are being posted by UKHSA on gov.uk, including the number of cases detected in England.