With the rate of confirmed monkeypox cases increasing, there are many questions we need answered to understand how the virus works.
Here is everything we know so far about how monkeypox spreads, what to do if you come in close contact with a monkeypox carrier and if there is a vaccine for the virus.
How does monkeypox spread from person to person?
According to the UKHSA, the virus enters the body through broken skin (even if it is not visible to the naked eye), the respiratory tract, or the mucous membranes (eyes, nose or mouth) and it doesn’t usually spread easily between people.
Infection can occur when a person comes into close contact with someone or something contaminated with the virus.
So anyone who has any concerns that they could be infected is encouraged to contact NHS 111 immediately, or a sexual health clinic. People must notify clinics in advance before they visit and calls or discussions at clinics will be treated with utmost sensitivity and confidentiality.
Although monkeypox has not previously been referred to as a sexually transmitted infection, it can be passed on by direct contact during sex.
The UKHSA recommends to anyone who has changed their sex partners regularly, or who has had close contact with individuals that they don’t know, to come forward if they develop a rash.
What happens if I’ve been in close contact with someone who has monkeypox?
Confirmed cases will be contacted by UKHSA local Health Protection Teams to help identify and trace contacts in order to take appropriate public health action to prevent the spread of infection.
The team at UKHSA will also be contacting any identified close contacts of the confirmed cases with monkeypox to provide relevant health information and advice.
Is there a vaccine for monkeypox?
The UKHSA says that there is no specific vaccine for monkeypox, but the vaccinia (smallpox) vaccine does offer some protection.
Giving the vaccine to contacts after they have been exposed to the virus can prevent infection developing or reduce the severity of the virus depending on how quickly it can be administered.
Some healthcare workers caring for individuals and those with higher levels of risk and exposures may be offered this smallpox vaccine following an assessment.