About MPX (Monkeypox)
How is MPX virus transmitted?
Key message: Transmission is through skin-to-skin contact with sores and/or scabs and/or bodily fluids from someone with MPX.
Key message: MPX MAY not be a sexually transmitted infection, but it seems it can be transmitted like one (likely because of the close contact that comes with sex). You should monitor for symptoms and get vaccinated as early as possible.
Person-to-person transmission of MPX virus can occur in several ways: direct contact, indirect contact through fomites, and through respiratory secretions. Direct contact – MPX virus is thought to get into your body by direct contact with MPX sores, scabs from MPX sores that are healing, or body fluids from a person with MPX. This tells us that MPX virus would spread pretty well during activities that include close, personal contact with a person that has MPX – like sex, cuddling, etc. Breaks in the skin or breaks in the pink parts just inside the mouth, anus, or genitals (mucous membranes) are potential ways MPX virus enters the body. These breaks usually occur from the friction of sex. Indirect contact through fomites – MPX virus might also get into your body through touching materials or objects that a person with MPX has come into contact with – such as clothing or bed sheets, etc. However, it is unclear whether this is a common way of getting MPX. At this stage, this is considered a possible risk. Respiratory secretions – MPX virus might also get into your body through breathing air from other people coughing, speaking, or other activities that blow air out of the lungs and throat – although, really long periods of face-to-face contact with someone with MPX might be required for this to occur. We do know that samples of MPX sores on the skin appear to contain much more MPX virus DNA than throat swabs – suggesting MPX virus getting into your body through the air might be less of a risk. But activities where you could possibly inhale MPX virus – like shaking bed sheets with MPX virus – may also put you at risk and should be avoided.
What is MPX like if you acquire it?
Key message: Something as benign as a pimple could be MPX.
Key message: MPX can start as a general illness that seems like a cold that develops into a rash of disk-like pimples that covers areas of your body.
Key message: These pimples will then crust over, become sores, and eventually your skin will heal. This process usually takes two to three weeks to complete.
How long does it take to show up?
Prior to the current global outbreak, it usually took about 5 to 13 days after MPX virus got into your body for symptoms to show up – but symptoms can develop in just 4 days or take as long as 21 days to show. With the current global outbreak, it has usually taken 7 to 10 days for symptoms to appear.
What symptoms should I look for?
Feeling sick: A general, unwell feeling is sometimes experienced in the early stages of having MPX. At this early stage, it is hard to tell if you have MPX, as these symptoms can be caused by other things that aren’t MPX virus – like COIVD, the flu, some STIs, etc. The things to look out for in this early stage are a fever, a sore throat, back pain, a headache, and feeling fatigued. Sometimes, people don’t get any symptoms at all in the early stages and feel perfectly fine. A rash: a rash of small (2 – 5 mm) disks that look like pimples that show up on any part of the body. Often, these pimples are found around/on/in the genitals, around/on/in the mouth, and around/on/in the anus. Sometimes the rash will show up on the face, arm, chest, and legs. This rash can show up one or two days before, or three to four days after the general feeling of sickness described above. But remember, sometimes people don’t feel sick, and they experience just the rash. Ultimately, the rash will last for about two to three weeks after it first shows up. It develops into sores that crust over and fall off. Other symptoms: in the current global MPX virus outbreak, there have been cases of people with sore throats who report they have difficulty swallowing. There have also been cases of MPX that caused sores around/on/in the anus, with rectal bleeding, pain, and inflammation. It is best to seek medical care from a s100 GP or your local sexual health clinic if you experience these symptoms.
How long can MPX virus be passed on if someone has it?
Key message: If you have MPX avoid sexual contact with other people until symptoms resolve.
Key message: If you have been told you are contact with someone with MPX avoid sexual contact for 21 days.
MPX virus can be passed on whilst someone has symptoms: that is from when symptoms first appear and all the way through until the skin has healed completely – looking just like it did before the MPX rash. Contacts of people with confirmed cases of MPX should avoid sexual contact for 21 days and monitor for symptoms.
Can I get vaccinated for MPX?
Key message: If you would like to be vaccinated – call your local sexual health clinic and ask to be put on the waiting list.
There is a safe and effective vaccine, named JYNNEOS, which protects people against MPX. However, because there has been MPX virus in a lot of different parts of the world, everyone wants this vaccine right now – so it is hard to find the stock. Our recommendation is to ring your local sexual health clinic to put yourself on the waiting list to get vaccinated. Vaccination can also be offered to people that have had sexual partners with confirmed MPX cases. This should help ensure the illness is milder or reduce their chance of developing symptoms altogether. This is known as PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis).
How is MPX treated?
Key message: Most MPX is mild and can be treated at home by drinking enough water, taking paracetamol or ibuprofen, and rest.
Key message: Serious cases can be treated by a doctor with special training in infectious diseases.
Mild illness: most people experience a mild illness, and if this is you, all you have to do is rest, make sure you’re drinking enough water, and manage pain and fever with paracetamol or ibuprofen. Getting better usually takes a few weeks. Severe illness and/or for people with weakened immune systems: some treatment options exist; however, this requires the expertise of a doctor that has special training in infectious diseases. If this is you, it is best to consult your GP or sexual health service to find out more.
What should I do if I have MPX?
Key message: Isolate at home and seek medical care by calling a sexual health clinic, a GP that has a lot of experience in sexual health, or call 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84).
It would be best to isolate at home but note you can leave to seek medical care in an emergency or any other situation that poses a risk to your safety and wellbeing. Medical advice for MPX can be sought by calling a s100 doctor (they will likely offer a telehealth appointment), calling your local sexual health clinic, or by ringing 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84). If you live with other people, if possible, it would be best to isolate yourself in a room or area that is separate from the rest of your household. If this isn’t possible, you can minimise the risk of transmission by wearing longer clothing that covers the body and by wearing a face mask. Regular hand washing, wearing gloves for direct contact, and cleaning common surfaces will minimise the likelihood of passing MPX virus to the people you live with.
Are there ways to reduce acquiring MPX whilst I’m having sex?
Key message: When hooking up, exchange contact information with your partner/s. This will assist with contact tracing and help slow the spread of MPX.
Because of the close contact with other people that comes with having sex, it is possible that MPX virus could get into your body during sex if one or more of your sexual partners have MPX. Strategies that reduce contact with MPX sores and scabs or bodily fluids will reduce your risk of acquiring MPX. This can include: - Sharing your details and phone number with your partners so they can let you know if they come in contact with MPX or develop symptoms. This will allow you to can access PEP if needed. - Reduce your number of sexual partners - Consider limiting your sex partners to people you know. Creating a bubble will reduce your risk of acquiring MPX. - Not sharing your sharing sex toys with others - Having virtual sex through the phone or a webcam without personal contact - Masturbating together without personal contact - Using condoms for 12 weeks after recovering from MPX. - Keeping your clothes on to minimise skin-to-skin contact - Avoiding kissing - Get vaccinated when the JYNNEOS vaccine is available.
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