What is it?
Monkeypox (MPX) is a rare viral infection. The risk of catching monkeypox in Scotland currently remains low.
Anyone can get monkeypox. However, currently most of the cases across Europe and the UK have been in gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (GBMSM).
Monkeypox is not a sexually transmitted infection but you can catch it through close personal contact with someone who has the infection, such as during sex.
How can I prevent it?
To reduce your risk of exposure to monkeypox you should:
- avoid close contact, including sexual contact, with someone who is unwell and may have monkeypox
- avoid touching the clothes, bedding or towels of a person who may have a monkeypox rash
- avoid coughs and sneezes from a person who may have monkeypox
- practice careful hand hygiene if visiting or caring for ill friends and relatives who may have monkeypox
For further information on monkeypox and safer sex visit NHS Inform.
How do I know if I have Monkeypox?
If you’re infected with monkeypox, symptoms usually start 5 to 21 days later. The symptoms often get better by themselves over 2 to 4 weeks.
Symptoms of monkeypox can include:
- high temperature (fever)
- flu-like symptoms, including muscle and back aches, shivering and tiredness
- swollen glands that feel like new lumps (in the neck, armpits or groin)
- a blistering rash that usually starts 1 to 5 days after other symptoms – the rash may start on the face or in the genital area and may spread to other parts of the body
- inflammation of the rectum (proctitis) – for example pain or bleeding from your back passage
Monkeypox rash can sometimes be confused with other diseases that can look similar, like chickenpox. A diagnosis of monkeypox requires an assessment by a health professional and specific testing.
If you have any of these symptoms you should stay at home, avoid close contact with others and get medical help by phone until you’re assessed. Call us on 01382 425542 to make an appointment or call your GP (within hours) or NHS24 on 111.
Is there treatment?
Monkeypox is usually a mild illness. Most people recover in 2 to 4 weeks. However, in some cases if a person is really unwell, they may require hospital treatment in a specialist unit.
Vaccination to help protect against monkeypox
Monkeypox is caused by a virus similar to the one that causes smallpox. So vaccines designed for smallpox are considered effective against monkeypox.
People at higher risk of coming into contact with monkeypox will be offered the vaccine to help reduce the spread. There’s currently a limited supply of the vaccine. So it’s being offered to those at highest risk first. As more supplies become available, more people will be offered a first dose.
Scotland’s sexual health services have started contacting people at highest risk to offer vaccination. They’ll continue to invite eligible groups over the next few months. This may be done by phone or at your next appointment, for example for PrEP or hepatitis B.
For more information on monkeypox visit NHS Inform.