Several people in the UK have been diagnosed with a rare infection called monkeypox. While monkeypox can affect anyone, the risk to the UK population remains low. People are advised to stay alert to new rashes or lesions on any part of their body. Most recent cases have been in gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men. These groups in particular are advised to be aware of the symptoms. If you have symptoms of monkepox please contact a sexual health service or call NHS 111. For more information, please visit nhs.uk.
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 infectious viral disease usually associated with travel to West Africa. It is generally a mild self-limiting illness, spread by very close contact with someone with monkeypox and most people recover within a few weeks.
Monkeypox can affect anyone. It can be passed on through close physical contact like kissing, skin-to-skin, sex or sharing things like clothing, bedding and towels. Although there are several cases in the UK, the risk to the UK population remains low; however we ask that people stay alert to any new rashes or lesions on any part of their body. Although this advice applies to everyone, a notable proportion of recent cases have been detected in gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men. We therefore advise this group in particular to be aware of the symptoms, especially if they have recently had a new sexual partner.
If you have symptoms of monkeypox please phone a sexual health service or call NHS 111. You must call ahead before your visit.
If you test positive for monkeypox, it usually takes between five and 21 days for the first symptoms to appear. These include:
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 – similar to chicken pox - before finally forming a scab, which later falls off.
Please contact a sexual health clinic if you have a rash with blisters and you’ve been either:
Make sure you contact the sexual health clinic before your visit. 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.
If you are not able to contact a sexual health clinic you should call NHS 111.