Mpox (Monkeypox) is a rare viral infection that causes a high temperature (fever) and a body rash lasting a few weeks. In recent times it has become commoner, including in the UK.
Prior to 2022, mpox mainly occurred in remote parts of Central and West Africa when a person had contact with animals infected with mpox. Occasionally the infection might then spread to someone else in the person’s house.
- It is very rare for travellers to Africa to become infected with mpox.
Since May 2022 there has been an increase in mpox cases detected in the UK, Europe and other countries around the world, among people who had no history of travel to Africa.
Anyone can get mpox, but most of the recently reported cases have been in men who are gay, bisexual or have sex with men, so it's especially important to be aware of the symptoms if you're in these groups.
Generally, there is a low risk of becoming infected with mpox during travel. The risk is greater if you have close personal contact, including during sex, with a person who has the infection and who has symptoms.
If you are travelling to Central or West Africa you should:
- avoid close contact with monkeys and rodents (for example rats, mice, squirrels), including their blood and other parts, and avoid eating undercooked meat from these animals
- wear protective clothing, including gloves, if you are involved in the slaughter of, or care and/or treatment of animals (e.g. veterinary work, agriculture etc)
- practice careful hand hygiene if visiting or caring for ill friends and relatives
If you plan to be sexually active during travel to any destination, you should:
- always practise safe sex
- avoid close physical contact, including sexual contact, with someone who is unwell and may have mpox
You should seek medical advice during, and for 21 days after travelling if you develop symptoms of mpox and:
- you have returned from Central or West Africa
- also make sure you are checked for malaria if returning from these countries as the symptoms might appear similar
- you have had close contact with someone who may have mpox
For further information see:
Vaccines designed for smallpox also offer protection against mpox and are being offered to people in high-risk groups to help prevent mpox.
- for more information about the vaccine, including information on high-risk groups, see NHS inform
Mpox is caused by the mpox virus. It does not spread readily between people.
Some animals in Africa, including rodents (rats, mice and squirrels) can carry the infection.
Infection can be caught from:
- infected animals in Central or West Africa
- close contact with infected animals including touching them or eating their undercooked meat increases your risk
- close contact with a person with mpox from their:
- rash (having skin contact, including during sex)
- clothes, bedding, towels or personal items
- coughs or sneezes
After becoming infected, symptoms usually start 5 to 21 days later and usually get better by themselves over a few weeks.
First symptoms include:
- high temperature (fever)
- flu-like symptoms, including muscle and back aches, shivering and tiredness
- swollen glands (that feel like new lumps) in the neck, armpits or groin
A blistering rash starts 1 to 5 days after the other symptoms. It may start on the face or in the genital areas and may spread to the rest of the body.
The rash changes from raised spots to blisters and then scabs, similar to a chickenpox rash.
There is no specific treatment for mpox and it usually gets better by itself. Medicines that help pain, fever and discomfort from the rash can be taken. In some cases, if a person becomes more seriously unwell, they may require treatment in hospital.
People with mpox should stay at home, isolate, and avoiding close contact with others to ensure they can’t pass on the infection.
For further information on what to do if you are worried you have mpox, see: