What is mpox?
Mpox (previously referred to as monkeypox) is a viral illness caused by the mpox virus.
In 2023 (up to 30 November 2023) there have been 135 confirmed cases of mpox in the whole of the UK. Many of these cases are presumed to have been acquired outside the UK, and the majority have been in men who are gay, bisexual or who have sex with other men. The route of transmission from cases diagnosed in 2022 was mostly from sexual contact.
How is it spread?
Mpox is passed on from person to person through any close physical contact with mpox 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 mpox.
The first symptoms of mpox include:
- a high temperature
- a headache
- muscle aches
- swollen glands
- shivering (chills)
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 mpox or has mpox symptoms, or have recently travelled to west or central Africa, you’re extremely unlikely to have mpox. If you feel unwell or have any concerns, call SHAC on 01273 523 388
How is mpox diagnosed?
Firstly, a clinician will need to assess your symptoms. You can book an appointment at SHAC East by calling the clinic on 01273 523 388, or you can attend a walk-in and wait appointment at SHAC Central. At your appointment they will take a swab to be sent for testing for the mpox virus alongside testing for other infections. The clinician will be able to give further advice for you and any recent sexual partners about mpox.
From 01/08/23, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) are providing mpox vaccination via London and Manchester clinics only.
If anyone has so far been unable to, and would like to access a first or second vaccination dose, these are still available via London and Manchester clinics for eligible individuals. Please follow the link below to find a clinic if required:
Locally there is now a vaccination supply specifically for those who are identified as having been a contact of confirmed mpox. If you are concerned you may have been a contact of mpox please contact the service on 01273 523 388 to discuss further.
How can I lower my risk of catching mpox?
Avoid coming into contact with any rashes or sores you see on others. Poorly lit spaces, such as dark rooms or licensed sex on premises venues such as saunas, may make it more difficult to see rashes or sores when having sex, and therefore have a higher chance of spreading mpox.
Talk to your partner(s) about any recent illness. Be aware of new or unexplained sores or rashes on your body or any sexual partner’s body, including the genitals and anus. If you or a partner have recently been sick, currently feel sick, or have a new or an unexplained rash or sores, avoid having sex until you have sought advice. Speak to your GP or local sexual health clinic. If you or a partner has mpox, 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. Avoid sharing things like towels, clothes, bedding, fetish gear or sex toys.