Skip to main content


Monkeypox is a rare disease that is caused by infection with monkeypox virus.

What are the symptoms?

Initial symptoms of monkeypox include:

  • fever;
  • headache;
  • muscle aches;
  • backache;
  • swollen lymph nodes;
  • chills and exhaustion.

A rash can develop, often beginning on the face, then spreading to other parts of the body including the genitals.

The rash changes and goes through different stages – it can look like chickenpox or syphilis, before finally forming a scab which later falls off.

Monkeypox is usually a mild self-limiting illness and most people recover within a few weeks.

The infection can be passed on through close contact with someone with the infection, or contact with clothing or linens used by a person who has monkeypox.

Getting tested

Anyone who thinks they have been at risk of exposure* with unusual rashes or lesions on any part of their body, especially their genitalia, should contact their local healthcare provider or GUM clinic without delay if they have concerns. Please phone first ahead of a visit to a healthcare facility.

A notable proportion of recent cases in England and Europe have been found in gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men, so the PHA is particularly encouraging them to be alert to the symptoms and seek help if concerned. We can assure them their call or discussion will be treated sensitively and confidentially.

For further information on monkeypox see

*People who think they have been at risk of exposure includes:

  • Exposure to a confirmed or probable case in the 21 days before symptom onset
  • History of travel to an area where Monkeypox is endemic, or where there is a current outbreak in the 21 days before symptom onset ( UKHSA SitRep dated 27/05/22 indicates cases reported in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UAE and USA).
  • Gay, Bisexual and Men who have Sex with Men (GBMSM)
return to top