Monkeypox: Latest UK Health Security Agency advice

You may have heard about monkeypox in the news recently. But what is it, what are the symptoms and how can you access help and information?

Monkeypox is a rare illness caused by the monkeypox virus. It can affect anyone, and while the risk to UK population remains low, people are being asked to be alert to any new rashes or lesions.

In the past monkeypox has been associated with travel to Central or West Africa but recent cases have been occurring in England with no travel links.

How does it spread?

Monkeypox can be passed on when someone comes into close physical contact with someone with monkeypox. The virus can enter the body through broken skin, the respiratory tract or through the eyes, nose or mouth.

The virus can be passed on if there is close physical contact between people through:

  • Kissing, skin-to-skin contact or having sex with someone with the monkeypox rash
  • Touching or sharing things like clothing, bedding or towels used by someone with the monkeypox rash
  • Touching monkeypox skin blisters or scabs
  • The coughs or sneezes of a person with the monkeypox rash

What are the symptoms?

It usually takes between five and 21 days for the first symptoms to appear. Symptoms include recent unexpected/unusual spots, ulcers or blisters anywhere on your body, fever, headaches, muscle aches, swollen glands, chills and exhaustion.

A rash can develop, often beginning on the face, then spreading to other parts of the body. The rash changes and goes through different stages – a bit like chicken pox – before finally forming a scab, which later falls off.

What to do if you develop symptoms

If you develop symptoms you should contact a sexual health clinic or call NHS 111. 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.

You can find a sexual health clinic online or contact the Liverpool Sexual Health Service on 0300 323 1300.

Further updates

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) is putting regular updates on There is also a UKHSA blog available online.

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