Monkeypox

Monkeypox

There has recently been an increase in cases in the UK, but the risk of catching it is low

A small number of people in the UK have been diagnosed with monkeypox and the risk remains low.

Cases

Monkeypox is a rare infection. Although more people have been diagnosed with it recently, only a small number of people in the UK have had monkeypox and the risk remains low.

Anyone can get monkeypox. Currently most cases have been in men who are gay, bisexual or have sex with other men.

Up to 25 July 2022, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) confirmed 2,367 monkeypox cases and 65 highly probable monkeypox cases in the UK: 2,432 in total.

How is it spread

Monkeypox is passed on from person to person through any close physical contact with monkeypox blisters or scabs. This includes holding hands, kissing and during sexual contact.

It can also be passed on by touching clothing, bedding or towels used by someone with monkeypox, or when a person with monkeypox coughs or sneezes close to you.

Symptoms

The first symptoms of monkeypox include:

  • a high temperature
  • a headache
  • muscle aches
  • backache
  • swollen glands
  • shivering (chills)
  • exhaustion

A rash usually appears 1 to 5 days after the first symptoms. The rash often begins on the face, then spreads to other parts of the body. This can include the genitals and anus. Unless you have been in close contact with someone who has monkeypox or has monkeypox symptoms, or have recently travelled to west or central Africa, you’re extremely unlikely to have monkeypox. If you feel unwell or have any concerns, call SHAC on 01273 523 388

Vaccination

If you have received a message inviting you to book a monkeypox vaccination, please reply to the message so that we are able to record your interest. We are keeping a list of everyone who has requested a vaccine and will be in touch to book your appointment as soon as we are able to. Please be patient as we are prioritising those at highest risk.

For information about the vaccine please use the links provided on this page. It is important to note that it takes a few weeks to develop some protection from monkeypox following a vaccine, so minimising your risk in the short term is the priority. We have provided more information about reducing risk below.

How can I lower my risk of catching monkeypox?

At events

Consider how much close, personal, skin-to-skin contact may happen at any event you plan to attend. If you feel sick or have any rashes or sores, do not attend any gathering. Speak to your GP or local sexual health clinic.

Festivals, events, and concerts where you’re fully clothed and unlikely to have skin-to-skin contact are safer. But be mindful of activities (like kissing) that might spread monkeypox.

A rave, party, or club where there’s less clothing and where there’s direct, personal, often skin-to-skin contact has some risk. Avoid any rashes or sores you see on others. Consider avoiding touching others where possible.

Enclosed spaces, such as back rooms, saunas, or sex clubs, where there is minimal or no clothing and where intimate sexual contact occurs, have a higher chance of spreading monkeypox.

Having sex

Talk to your partner about any recent illness. Be aware of new or unexplained sores or rashes on your body or your partner’s body, including the genitals and anus.

If you or your partner have recently been sick, currently feel sick, or have a new or an unexplained rash or sores, do not have sex. Speak to your GP or local sexual health clinic.

If you or a partner has monkeypox, the best way to protect yourself and others is to not have sex of any kind (oral, anal, vaginal). Do not kiss or touch each other’s bodies while you’re sick, especially any rash or sores. Do not share things like towels, toothbrushes, fetish gear and sex toys.