Monkeypox is a rare infection that’s mainly spread by wild animals in parts of west or central Africa. The risk of catching it in the UK is low.
You can catch monkeypox from an infected animal if you’re bitten or you touch its blood, body fluids, spots, blisters or scabs.
It may also be possible to catch monkeypox by eating meat from an infected animal that has not been cooked thoroughly,
Monkeypox in the UK
Only a small number of people have been diagnosed with monkeypox in the UK.
You’re extremely unlikely to have monkeypox if:
- you have not recently travelled to west or central Africa
- you have not been in close contact with someone who has monkeypox (such as touching their skin or sharing bedding)
Things you can do to avoid getting monkeypox
Although monkeypox is rare, there are things you can do to reduce your risk of getting it.
- wash your hands with soap and water regularly or use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser
- only eat meat that has been cooked thoroughly
- do not go near wild or stray animals, including dead animals
- do not go near any animals that appear unwell
- do not eat or touch meat from wild animals (bush meat)
- do not share bedding or towels with people who are unwell and may have monkeypox
- do not have close contact with people who are unwell and may have monkeypox
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.
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 2 to 4 weeks.
Contact your GP or call 111 if:
You have a rash with blisters and either:
- you’ve returned from west or central Africa in the last 3 weeks
- you’ve been in close contact with someone who has monkeypox in the last 3 weeks
Make sure you tell the person you speak to if you’ve recently travelled to central or west Africa, or have had close contact with someone who has monkeypox.
Stay at home and avoid close contact with other people until you’ve been told what to do.
If you’re still abroad, try to get medical help where you are as soon as possible.