Monkeypox is a rare infection that's mainly found in parts of west or central Africa. There have been some recent cases in the UK, but the risk of catching it is low.
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Monkeypox in the UK
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.
You're extremely unlikely to have monkeypox if:
- you have not been in close contact (such as touching their skin or sharing bedding) with someone who has monkeypox or has monkeypox symptoms
- you have not recently travelled to west or central Africa.
Anyone can get monkeypox. Some cases have been diagnosed in men who have sex with men, so it's particularly important to be aware of the symptoms if you're a man who has sex with men.
Call 111 or contact a sexual health clinic if:
You have a rash with blisters and either:
- you've been in close contact with someone who has or might have monkeypox (even if they've not been tested yet) in the past 3 weeks
- you've been to west or central Africa in the past 3 weeks
- you're a man who has sex with men
Tell the person you speak to if you've had close contact with someone who has or might have monkeypox, or if you've recently travelled to central or west Africa.
Do not go to a sexual health clinic without contacting them first. Stay at home and avoid close contact with other people until you've been told what to do.
Symptoms of monkeypox
If you get infected with monkeypox, it usually takes between 5 and 21 days for the first symptoms to appear.
The first symptoms of monkeypox 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.
The rash is sometimes confused with chickenpox. It starts as raised spots, which turn into small blisters filled with fluid. These blisters eventually form scabs which later fall off.
The symptoms usually clear up in a few weeks.
Treatment for monkeypox
Monkeypox is usually mild and most people recover within a few weeks without treatment.
But as the infection can spread through close contact, it's important to isolate if you're diagnosed with it.
You may be asked to isolate at home if your symptoms are mild.
If your symptoms are severe or you're at higher risk of getting seriously ill (for example, if you have a weakened immune system), you may need to stay in a specialist hospital until you recover.
You may be offered a vaccination to reduce the risk of getting seriously ill.