Mpox (formerly known as monkeypox and MPX) is a viral infection that is mainly spread through skin-to-skin contact with someone who has Mpox.
While anyone can get mpox, the current global outbreak has disproportionately impacted:
- men who have sex with men (MSM)
- people who have sex with MSM (this may include people of any gender or sexual identity, whether they are transgender, cisgender or non-binary).
Men who have sex with men and their sexual partners have been disproportionately impacted. There is higher risk for these people.
Prevention advice for travellers
People with mpox are contagious from when they develop their first symptoms until their rash lesions crust, dry or fall off. This normally takes around two-to-four weeks. Transmission is predominantly through direct contact with lesions or fluid from lesions.
People travelling to an area where there is a current mpox outbreak should:
- avoid close physical or sexual skin-to-skin contact with someone who has mpox or mpox symptoms
- avoid direct contact with the skin rashes, lesions, scabs or bodily fluids of someone with mpox
- avoid physical contact with the clothing, bedding or towels of a person with mpox
It’s also important to practice good hygiene, including washing hands with soap and water or alcohol-based sanitiser.
People travelling overseas should check (before they travel) what medical cover their insurance includes in case they need to isolate or seek medical care.
MPX does not spread easily between people. The ways the virus can be passed on include:
- Close physical, intimate or sexual contact with someone who has MPX, via skin-to-skin contact
- Direct contact with the skin rashes, lesions, scabs or bodily fluids of someone with MPX
- Touching clothing, bedding or towels used by someone with a MPX rash
MPX can also be passed on through breathing in droplets that have been exhaled by someone who has the virus. As this requires prolonged contact and for people to be very close together, the risk of the virus spreading in this way is very low.
In endemic areas, spread of MPX may occur when a person comes into close contact with a wild animal (such as a rodent) infected with the virus, or if they ingest wild game derived from an infected animal.
People with MPX are contagious from when they develop their first symptoms until their rash lesions crust, dry or fall off. This normally takes around two-to-four weeks.
Symptoms and seeking advice
Mpox symptoms can include a rash, spots or blisters. Some people also develop cold and flu symptoms, including a fever or swollen glands prior to a rash developing.
If you develop symptoms stay home, self-isolate and seek advice. Many illnesses can cause similar symptoms so it may not be Mpox, but it’s important to get help.
If you’re in New Zealand you can contact a sexual health clinic for free advice, call your GP, or ring Healthline for free anytime on 0800 611 116.
If you need to visit a medical practice or hospital for care, you should call ahead before visiting to let them know you are coming and tell them about your symptoms. To avoid passing on Mpox to others, wear a well-fitted medical mask, cover any rashes or blisters on your skin, and travel via private transport.
Reviewed:12 Jun 2023, 15:32
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