Everything You Need to Know About Monkey Pox

• Written by Kyle

Recently, the UK has experienced its first cases of monkey pox in four years. Though the risk of catching the monkey pox virus is low, it is still important to be cautious. To help reduce your chances of exposure to the condition, we have created this guide on causes, symptoms, and treatments.

Causes of Monkey Pox

Monkey pox is not often seen in the UK. The last outbreak occurred in 2018 and it is only in 2022 that more cases have been reported. Generally, monkey pox is found in west or central Africa, though occasionally it spreads elsewhere.

It is caused by a virus similar to the smallpox virus. A person can catch smallpox if they have:

  • Been in close physical contact with blisters or scabs resulting from monkey pox – close physical contact includes kissing, holding hands, cuddling, and sexual contact
  • Touched clothing, bedding, or towels used by someone who has monkey pox
  • Been near someone with the virus when they cough or sneeze

Sometimes, monkey pox is passed by animals, though this usually happens in Africa. You can catch monkey pox from animals if you:

  • Have been bitten by an infected animal
  • Touch an infected animal’s fur, skin, blood, bodily fluids, spots, blisters, or scabs
  • Eat the meat of an infected animal that has not been thoroughly cooked

You are unlikely to have this condition if you have not been in close contact with someone with the virus or have not recently travelled to west or central Africa. Currently, most UK cases of monkey pox have been linked to sexual contact between men.

Monkey Pox Symptoms

You will likely take anywhere between 5 and 21 days to show symptoms of monkey pox after being exposed. These symptoms include a fever (high temperature, shivering, muscle aches) and general fatigue. Once these symptoms present themselves, a rash appears up to five days later. It starts on the face before spreading to other areas, including the mouth and genitals.

The rash can resemble chickenpox. Raised spots become fluid-filled blisters, which then scab over and fall off. Symptoms generally last for a few weeks before going away. During this period, you can pass monkey pox to other people.

If you present with symptoms of monkey pox, it is recommended that you contact a sexual health clinic. When this is not possible, call 111 for advice instead. For children presenting symptoms, make an appointment with their GP.

Monkey Pox Treatment

In most cases, monkey pox does not require treatment. People with the condition are likely to recover on their own within a few weeks. It is advised that they stay at home and avoid close contact with other people until they have received advice from their doctor or the sexual health clinic.

However, older people and people with a reduced immune system are more vulnerable to the virus. This means they may become seriously unwell. If this is the case, hospital treatment may prove necessary. Fortunately, even if you experience severe symptoms, the virus is unlikely to prove fatal.

In the UK, there have been no reported deaths. Of 6,027 global confirmed cases, only 3 deaths have been connected to monkey pox.

Is There a Vaccine?

There is not currently a vaccination specifically for monkey pox. However, as it possesses several similarities to the smallpox virus, the smallpox vaccination (MVA) can help to increase protection. The vaccine is currently being offered to people who are more likely to be exposed to the virus. This includes:

  • Healthcare workers caring for patients who have or may have monkey pox
  • Men who have sex with men and/or have multiple partners
  • People who have been in close contact with someone who has the virus

Currently, healthcare workers are being offered two doses of the MVA vaccine, whereas the other categories are being offered only one. If you are considered at risk, your local NHS service will contact you and let you know. You may also be offered the vaccine when you attend a sexual health clinic.

Monkey Pox Prevention

Due to the low prevalence of monkey pox, you are unlikely to encounter it. However, there are steps you can take to remain safe.

Regularly washing your hands is one of the most effective ways of preventing transmission. This applies to most viral and bacterial infections. Know what the symptoms of monkey pox look like and be aware of them when in close contact with others.

As monkey pox has mainly been seen in men who have sex with other men, it is important to be mindful of sexual health. Discuss sexual health before any intimate contact, especially with new partners, and take a break from all intimate contact if you have symptoms or are worried you have been exposed.

Avoid sharing bedding, towels, or clothes with someone who has or may have this condition. Similarly, if you have symptoms, avoid sharing bedding, towels, or clothing with other people.

Peace of Mind from LifeConnect24

Monkey pox is likely nothing to worry about, but your welfare is always important. Another way to look out for your wellbeing is to purchase a personal alarm from LifeConnect24. With a personal alarm, help is always the push of a button away.

If you experience a fall or feel unwell, activating your alarm sends an alert to our 24/7 Response Team. They will assess the situation and arrange help on your behalf by informing emergency contacts. If necessary, they will also alert the emergency services.

For additional peace of mind, you could also purchase a keysafe.

To find out more about the LifeConnect24 personal alarm service, read our detailed guide. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call us on 0800 999 0400. Our team will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

LifeConnect24 Automatic Fall Detector 24/7 monitoring
LifeConnect24 Personal Alarm supports you at home 24/7
LifeConnect24 Personal Alarm supports you at home 24/7
LifeConnect24 Personal Alarm supports you at home 24/7
LifeConnect24 Automatic Fall Detector 24/7 monitoring
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