The main points
Sexual Health Victoria is not administering the monkeypox vaccine at this stage. Please visit the Department of Health website page to see a full list of clinics providing the vaccine.
- Monkeypox is closely related to the virus that causes smallpox but is clinically less severe.
- People with monkeypox develop a rash that can be painful and could affect any part of the body, including the genitals, face, mouth and soles of feet.
- The illness is usually mild and recovery takes a few weeks. In severe cases, effective antiviral treatments are available in Australia so early diagnosis is important.
What is monkeypox?
Monkeypox is closely related to the virus that causes smallpox but is clinically less severe. People with monkeypox develop a rash that can be painful and could affect any part of the body, including the genitals, face, mouth and soles of their feet.
Severe illness may develop in a small percentage of people. It does not easily spread between people, as it usually requires very close contact.
What are the symptoms of monkeypox?
Monkeypox symptoms may start with fever, chills, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, and fatigue before a rash develops, but it may also begin with a rash. The rash may spread all over the body or only be present on the genitals.
People with monkeypox develop a rash that can be painful and could affect any part of the body including:
- area around the anus
- inside the mouth
- palms of the hands
- soles of the feet.
The rash involves vesicles, pustules, pimples or ulcers and goes through different stages, like chickenpox, before finally becoming a scab that falls off. Symptoms may resemble other sexually transmitted infections such as herpes or syphilis.
How do people get monkeypox?
Human-to-human transmission can occur through:
- close contact with lesions on the skin
- body fluids, including respiratory droplets
- contaminated materials such as linen and towels.
Transmission through respiratory droplets is less common and usually only happens if there is prolonged face-to-face contact.
Is monkeypox a sexually transmitted infection (STI)?
The jury is still out on this one.
Monkeypox can be transmitted with and without having sex through very close contact.
Can only men who have sex with men get monkeypox?
No. Anyone who has been in close contact with someone with monkeypox is at risk.
Have cases of monkeypox been detected in Australia?
Yes – Cases have been detected in Australia, some of which are locally acquired infections.
How long is monkeypox contagious?
People with monkeypox are generally infectious for up to 21 days until the lesions are healed and symptoms no longer persist.
People with monkeypox are contagious from the time that they develop their first symptoms (which is usually fever, but occasionally starts with a rash) and until rash lesions crust, dry or fall off.
How do I protect myself from monkeypox?
Avoid close contact with people who have suspected or confirmed monkeypox infection. It is essential that you stay vigilant with hygiene measures including wearing masks and washing hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based sanitiser.
People travelling overseas to locations where there have been monkeypox cases, who are sexually active whilst travelling and/or attending large parties should be aware of the risk of monkeypox. Seek advice from local health authorities if you think you might have been exposed.
What should I do if I think I could have monkeypox?
If you think that you may have been exposed to or have any symptoms suggestive of monkeypox, SHV recommends calling Melbourne Sexual Health Clinic on 9341 6200 for further advice.
Treatment for monkeypox
The illness is usually mild and recovery takes a few weeks. In severe cases, effective antiviral treatments are available in Australia so early diagnosis is important.