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Monkeypox in the UK - update

26/05/2022

This article is from 26 May 2022 - the situation may change with time.

Monkeypox is a rare illness caused by the monkeypox virus. One of the symptoms is a rash that is sometimes confused with chicken pox.

It is usually associated with travel to Central or West Africa, but cases have been occurring in England with no travel links.

Monkeypox can be spread when someone comes into close contact with an infected person. The virus can enter the body through broken skin, the respiratory tract, or through the eyes, nose, or mouth.

If you get infected with monkeypox, it usually takes between five and 21 days for the first symptoms to appear. Symptoms include:

  • fever
  • headache
  • muscle aches
  • backache
  • swollen lymph nodes
  • chills
  • 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.

The virus can spread if there is close contact between people through:

  • touching 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.

Anyone with concerns that they could be infected should see a health professional, but make contact with the clinic or surgery before visiting.

NHS 111 online can also give advice.

UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) will post regular updates on gov.uk