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Monkeypox

This advice is for people over the age of 18, if you are concerned about your child please contact your GP or 111

What is monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a rare illness caused by a virus. It can spread from animals to humans and can also spread from person to person.

Symptoms

Monkeypox can cause a range of signs and symptoms.  While most people have mild symptoms, occasionally some may need hospital care. Those at higher risk for becoming severely unwell include people who are pregnant, children and people with a low or suppressed immune system.

The most common symptoms of monkey pox include fever, headache, muscle aches, back pain, low energy, and swollen lymph nodes. This is followed or accompanied by a rash which can last for two to three weeks. The rash can be found on the face, palms of the hands, soles of the feet, eyes, mouth, throat, groin, around the genitals or the back passage. The number of spots can range from one to several thousand. They begin flat, then fill with liquid before they crust over, dry up and fall off, with a fresh layer of skin forming underneath.

Symptoms typically last two to three weeks and usually go away on their own or with supportive care, such as medication for pain or fever. People can pass the virus on to others and therefore need to isolate until all of the spots have crusted over, the scabs fallen off and a new layer of skin has formed underneath.

Anyone who has symptoms that could be monkeypox or who has been in contact with someone who has monkeypox should contact Luton Sexual Health on 01582 497070do not visit Luton Sexual Health clinic before having a telephone assessment as you could risk passing the virus on to others.

How does monkeypox spread?

Monkeypox spreads from person to person through close contact with someone who has a monkeypox rash, including through face-to-face, skin-to-skin, mouth-to-mouth or mouth-to-skin contact, including sexual contact. We do not yet know how long people with monkeypox can pass the virus on to others. Generally they are considered infectious until all of their spots have crusted over, the scabs have fallen off and a new layer of skin has formed underneath.

Environments can become contaminated with the monkeypox virus, for example when a person with symptoms touches clothing, bedding, towels, objects, electronics and surfaces. Someone else who touches these items can then pick up the virus.  It is also possible to become infected from breathing in skin flakes or virus from clothing, bedding or towels. This is known as fomite transmission.

Ulcers, spots or sores in the mouth can be infectious, meaning the virus can spread through direct contact with the mouth and droplets from breathing. We do not know yet how easily monkeypox passes through the air and research is ongoing.

The virus can also spread from someone who is pregnant to their unborn child, after birth through skin-to-skin contact, or from a parent to a child during close contact.

Although infections without any symptoms have been reported, it is not clear whether people without symptoms can spread the disease or whether it can spread through other bodily fluids.  Pieces of DNA (genetic material) from the monkeypox virus have been found in semen, but it is not yet known whether infection can spread through semen, vaginal fluids, amniotic fluids, breastmilk or blood. Research is underway to find out more about whether people can spread monkeypox through the exchange of these fluids during and after symptomatic infection.

Who is at risk of catching monkeypox?

People who live with or have close contact (including sexual contact) with someone who has monkeypox, or who has regular contact with animals that could be infected, are most at risk. Health workers should follow infection prevention and control measures to protect themselves while caring for monkeypox patients.

New-born infants, young children and people with underlying immune problems may be at risk of more serious symptoms.  People who were vaccinated against smallpox may have some protection against monkeypox. However, younger people are unlikely to have been vaccinated against smallpox because smallpox vaccination stopped in most settings worldwide after it was eradicated in 1980. People who have been vaccinated against smallpox should continue to take precautions to protect themselves and others.

What do I do if I think I might have monkeypox?

If you think you might have monkeypox, you can act to protect others by seeking medical advice and isolating from others until have been assessed and tested. If you have likely or confirmed monkeypox, you should isolate from others until all of your sores have crusted over, the scabs have fallen off and a new layer of skin has formed underneath. This will reduce the risk of you passing on the virus to others. Get advice from your local sexual health clinic if you are over the age of 18, or your GP for people under the age of 18, on whether you should isolate at home or in a health facility. Until more is understood about transmission through sexual fluids, you should use condoms while having sexual contact for 12 weeks after you have recovered.

For further information and advice on isolating at home, please see Government guidance here https://www.gov.uk/guidance/guidance-for-people-with-monkeypox-infection-who-are-isolating-at-home

Testing

Testing is available from your local sexual health clinic. Call your clinic for an assessment with a sexual health consultant.  Please DO NOT walk-in. Monkeypox is an infectious disease. The contact details for the local sexual health clinics are stated below.

Treatment

People with monkeypox should follow the advice of their health care provider. Symptoms normally resolve on their own without the need for treatment. If needed, medication for pain (analgesics) and fever (antipyretics) can be used to relieve some symptoms.  It is important for anyone with monkeypox to stay hydrated, eat well, and get enough sleep. People who are self-isolating should take care of their mental health by doing things they find relaxing and enjoyable, staying connected to loved ones by phone or computer, exercising if they feel well enough and can do so while isolating, and asking for support with their mental health if they need it.

Vaccinations

Vaccinations will become available in Luton in due course. If we believe you may be at high risk of exposure to monkeypox we will contact you to offer vaccination once it is available.  Please do not contact us to request vaccination at this time.

For further information about Monkeypox you can visit the NHS website at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/monkeypox/

Or the UK Health Security Agency website at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/monkeypox

 

Sexual Health Clinic details:

If you think you may be affected by Monkeypox, please contact your Local Sexual Health clinic by phone. Please do not walk-in. You will be advised on how to access the clinic during the call.

Luton Sexual Health – 01582 497070

iCash Bedfordshire/Milton Keynes – 0300 300 3030

SH24 (Hertfordshire) – 0300 008 5522