Monkeypox is a rare disease that is caused by infection of the Monkeypox virus. It can spread easily from infected animals to humans and can then be passed from person to person. Transmission of this disease between humans occurs when the virus enters the body through contact with the eyes, nose, mouth, or through broken skin.
Interactions between people that can cause others to become infected include:
- having direct contact with Monkeypox lesions or scabs (including during sexual contact, kissing, cuddling or holding hands)
- when an infected person coughs or sneeze close to others that are not infected
- contact with clothing or linens, such as bedding and towels, used by the infected person
The incubation period for this disease is the time between contact with the infected person and the time of when the first symptoms appear.
Most people infected with Monkeypox should recover within several weeks. However, severe illness can occur in some individuals.
The initial symptoms that may be experienced are:
- muscle aches
- swollen lymph nodes
- joint pain
A rash develops between 1 to 5 days after the appearance of fever. This often starts on the face or genitalia and then spreads to other body parts. The rash will go through different stages before finally forming a scab, that will fall off. Individuals will be contagious until all the scabs have fallen off and there is intact skin underneath.
How to treat
There is no medication that can be provided to treat Monkeypox, and the illness is normally mild. Infected individuals will be provided with a supportive pathway to help them manage at home during the isolation period.
If an individual is infected with Monkeypox they should:
- contact the local sexual health team to organise appointment to get diagnosis
- once diagnosed stay at home for 21 days from onset of symptoms
- avoid contact with others.
- not pick scabs
- get plenty of rest
Monkeypox can be prevented through good hygiene, safe sex and uptake of an available vaccine if appropriate. Prevention methods include:
- washing hands often using soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub
- talking to sexual partners about their sexual health and any symptoms they may have
- keeping informed about the Monkeypox symptoms, especially if having new sexual partners
If you have symptoms of Monkeypox appear, contact a GP or the sexual health clinic and avoid sex and intimate contact, until there is no longer a risk of passing it on.
People more likely to be pre-exposed to Monkeypox, are being offered the Smallpox (MVA) vaccination as it provides a good level of protection against the Monkeypox virus.
People more at risk of exposure include:
- healthcare workers caring for patients confirmed or suspected Monkeypox
- gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (GBMSM) - your doctor or nurse will advise vaccination for you if they consider you are at high risk
- people who have already had close contact with a patient with confirmed Monkeypox
Vaccination with a single dose of vaccine should be offered as soon as possible (ideally within 4 days as after this time the vaccination will not prevent the disease, only severe symptoms of the infection).
Due to the methods of transmission and the reduced likelihood of exposure, UKHSA are not currently recommending that anyone outside of these risk groups need to be vaccinated.
People infected with Monkeypox should inform their local sexual health team as soon as they suspect they are infected, however mild their symptoms are.
Call the North Northamptonshire Sexual Health Team on 01536 410647.
The local Public Health - Health Protection Team for North and West Northamptonshire work closely with UKHSA (UK Health Security Agency). They use routine surveillance programmes to monitor the spread of infectious diseases and provide support to prevent and control infection in establishments such as hospitals, care homes and schools.
As Monkeypox is a notifiable disease in England, it is important the health professionals inform East Midlands UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) of any cases for early identification and management of cases to prevent onward transmission of this disease.
Contact details for East Midlands UKHSA
These are not constantly monitored out of hours.
- Monkeypox: background information
- Monkeypox - NHS
- See further details on the MVA vaccination
- Notifications of infectious diseases (NOIDs)
Last updated 12 October 2022