What is Mpox?
Mpox is a rare illness caused by the Mpox virus. It is usually associated with travel to central or west Africa, but cases have been occurring in the UK with no travel links. Although there has been a rise in the number of cases in the UK, the risk of catching Mpox still remains low.
How do you get Mpox?
The virus can enter the body through broken skin, the respiratory tract or through the eyes, nose, or mouth.
The virus can spread if there is close contact between people through:
- any close physical contact with Mpox blisters or scabs (including during sexual contact, kissing, cuddling or holding hands)
- touching clothing, bedding or towels used by someone with Mpox
- the coughs or sneezes of a person with Mpox when they are close to you
In parts of west or central Africa, Mpox can be caught from infected rodents such as mice, rats and squirrels if:
- you are bitten
- you touch its infected fur, skin, blood, body fluids, spots, blisters or scabs
- you eat its meat and it’s not been cooked thoroughly
You are very unlikely to have Mpox if:
- you have not been in close contact (such as touching skin, sharing towels, clothes or bedding) with someone with Mpox or Mpox symptoms
- or you have not visited west or central Africa in the last 3 weeks.
Anyone can get Mpox. Though currently a large proportion of cases detected have been in gay, bisexual and men who have sex with men. It’s important if you are within one of these groups to be alert to any unusual rashes or lesions and to contact a sexual health service without delay.
What are the symptoms?
If you get infected with Mpox, it usually takes between 5 and 21 days for the first symptoms to appear.
The first symptoms of Mpox include:
- high temperature
- muscle aches
- swollen lymph nodes
- shivering (chills)
The rash usually appears 1-5 days after the first symptoms. The rash often begins on the face, then spreads to other parts of the body. This can be the genitals and anus. The rash is sometimes mistaken for chicken pox as it starts with raised spots which later blister, then scab and eventually fall off.
The symptoms usually clear up within a few weeks. While you have symptoms, you can pass Mpox to others
Please contact a sexual health clinic if:
You have a rash with blisters, anal pain or bleeding from your bottom and have either:
- been in close contact, including sexual contact, with someone who has or might have Mpox (even if they’ve not been tested yet) in the past 3 weeks
- had 1 or more new sexual partners in the past 3 weeks
- been to west or central Africa in the past 3 weeks
Please stay at home and avoid close contact with other people until you have been advised what to do.
Please call the sexual health clinic before visiting.
Tell the person you speak to if you’ve had close contact with someone who has or might have Mpox, or if you’ve recently travelled to central or west Africa.
Our services are open Monday to Friday between 9am – 5pm and we encourage you to call us on the telephone numbers below if you have any queries, worries or symptoms.
Treatment for Mpox
Mpox is usually a mild illness, and most people will recover at home within a few weeks without any treatment. However, if your symptoms are more severe and you become unwell, you may need treatment in hospital.
Certain groups are more at risk of needing hospital treatment:
- Older people
- Younger people
- Those with a condition or who are taking medication which affects their immune system
Because the infection is passed on to other by close contact, it is important isolate from others if you are diagnosed with Mpox.
Advice and guidance can be found on GOV.UK for patients who are isolating at home.
Vaccination to protect against Mpox
Mpox is caused by a virus which is similar to Smallpox. The Smallpox vaccine should provide a good level of protection against the Mpox virus. The NHS is offering a vaccine to those at most risk of being exposed to Mpox
- Some health care workers
- Some men who are gay, bisexual or have sex with other men
- People who have been in contact someone who has Mpox. This should be given with 4 days of the contact, but it can be given up to 14 days after
Eligible people will be offered one dose to reduce the severity of the virus and to prevent future infections. For some groups, a second dose may be offered.
If you are at risk of exposure, your local NHS sexual health service will contact you to and offer you a vaccine.
When will I receive a vaccination?
There is limited supply of the MVA vaccine, so initially one dose of the vaccine is being offered to those at the highest risk. Our sexual health services are contacting the highest risk group first to invite them to attend for a vaccination. We are also offering opportunistic vaccines to this group when they attend our services for an appointment.
As more vaccines become available more people will be offered the first dose of the vaccine.
We will regularly update this page with further updates as soon as the national guidance changes.
For more information about vaccinations, please click on the links below: