What is Monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with the Monkeypox virus. It is related to the viruses that cause smallpox (variola virus) and cowpox. Monkeypox is not a sexually-transmitted infection.

 

Transmission

Monkeypox is usually transmitted through close contact with an infected individual, including sexual contact. Contact with sores or scabs of infected individuals, or their infected bedding or clothes, can also be a means of transmission. Less frequently through coughing.

Although Monkeypox is rare in this country, transmission has occurred within sections of the community, with a high proportion of cases currently (though not exclusively) affecting men who are gay, bisexual and men who have sex with men.

 

What is being done about it?

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), the organisation in England responsible for public health and infectious diseases, has been monitoring the number of cases and the spread of Monkeypox since it was first detected in the UK.

Anyone can get Monkeypox, and although more people have been diagnosed with it recently, the risk remains low.

In England, most cases have been in men who are gay, bisexual and men who have sex with men, so it’s particularly important to be aware of the symptoms if you’re in these groups.

 

Symptoms to look out for

Common signs of Monkeypox infection include fever, headache, muscle aches, exhaustion, swollen lymph nodes and development of a new rash or spot anywhere on the body.

You’re extremely unlikely to have Monkeypox if you have not been in close contact with someone who has Monkeypox or Monkeypox symptoms, and if you have not recently travelled to West or Central Africa nor had multiple sexual partners in a short space of time, here or abroad.

 

What is happening now?

As transmission rates continue to rise, the UKHSA has advised that a pre-exposure vaccination programme targeting individuals who are most at risk of exposure should start as soon as possible. 

This means the NHS is now offering proactive, pre-exposure vaccination to men who are gay or bisexual, men who have sex with men (GBMSM) and frontline staff at greatest risk of exposure.

We will also continue to vaccinate those who have been in close contact with people with a confirmed case of Monkeypox.

To make best use of vaccine supply, first doses are being prioritised.

What to do if you’ve come into contact

with someone with Monkeypox

Anyone who may have come into contact with someone who has Monkeypox, is feeling unwell, or has symptoms that could be consistent with Monkeypox infection, should limit their contact with others and telephone the national helpline on 0333 242 3672 or Hope House Sexual Health Clinic on 0300 421 6500.

Please do not attend the clinic unless requested to do so.

Smallpox vaccination

About the Smallpox (MVA) vaccine

The NHS is now offering proactive, pre-exposure vaccination to men who are gay or bisexual, men who have sex with men (GBMSM) and frontline staff at greatest risk of exposure.

We will also continue to vaccinate those who have been in close contact with people with a confirmed case of Monkeypox.

To make best use of vaccine supply, first doses are being prioritised.

 

You have been asked to read the below UKHSA

information regarding the Smallpox vaccine.

I would like to be vaccinated now, but I haven’t been contacted

There is a limited supply of the Smallpox (MVA) vaccine so initially, one dose is being offered to those at highest risk.

As more vaccine supplies become available, more people will be offered the first dose of the vaccine.

Additional supplies are expected soon and those next in line will be offered the vaccine as soon as it becomes available.