About Mpox (Monkeypox/MPXV)
What is Mpox (Monkeypox/MPXV)?
Mpox (Monkeypox) is a rare viral infection that does not spread easily between people and is usually associated with travel to Central or West Africa, where it is endemic.
In 2022, cases of Mpox were identified in several non-endemic countries, including Australia and several European countries and the United States. We also saw limited cases of Mpox in Queensland but there is always a risk of of further and increasing local community transmission.
It typically begins with influenza-like illness and swelling of the lymph nodes, then progresses to a widespread rash on the face and body.
Mpox is usually a self-limited disease with the symptoms lasting from 2 to 4 weeks. Severe cases can occur.
Mpox (Monkeypox/MPXV) Vaccinations
There is a safe and effective vaccine, named JYNNEOS, which protects people against Mpox. Queensland has plenty of vaccine supply, so now is the perfect time to get vaccinated against Mpox.
In Queensland, and with most other parts of Australia, a two-dose vaccine, given 28 days apart, is offered to all gay, bisexual men and men who have sex with men (cis and trans) as well as anyone who has sex with these men, including women (cis and trans), non-binary people and sex workers.
You can search for the nearest spot in Queensland to get vaccinated hereMore sites are being added regularly. More more options, check the resources below.
Vaccination can also be offered to people that have had sexual partners with confirmed Mpox cases. This should help ensure the illness is milder or reduce their chance of developing symptoms altogether. This is known as PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis).
The vaccine used for Mpox (Monkeypox/MPXV) is JYNNEOS – Bavarian Nordic (BN) product that is safe to use in people who are immunocompromised, which includes some people with HIV.
As mentioned, the vaccine is a two-dose vaccine, with at least 28 days between each dose. People will start to build protection in the days and weeks after their first dose but will not have full immunity from the vaccine until two weeks after the second dose.
It’s important to ensure you do receive both doses of the vaccine to maximise your protection against Mpox.
How is Mpox (Monkeypox/MPXV) Transmitted?
Transmission is through skin-to-skin contact with sores and/or scabs and/or bodily fluids from someone with Mpox.
Mpox MAY not be a sexually transmitted infection, but it seems it can be transmitted like one (likely because of the close contact that comes with sex). You should monitor for symptoms and get vaccinated as early as possible.
Person-to-person transmission of Mpox can occur in several ways:
Mpox is thought to get into your body by direct contact with Mpox sores, scabs from Mpox sores that are healing, or body fluids from a person with Mpox. This tells us that Mpox would spread pretty well during activities that include close, personal contact with a person that has Mpox like sex, cuddling, etc. Breaks in the skin or breaks in the pink parts just inside the mouth, anus, or genitals (mucous membranes) are potential ways Mpox enters the body. These breaks usually occur from the friction of sex.
MPox might also get into your body through touching materials or objects that a person with MPox has come into contact with, such as clothing or bed sheets, etc. However, it is unclear whether this is a common way of getting MPox. At this stage, this is considered a possible risk.
MPox might also get into your body through breathing air from other people coughing, speaking, or other activities that blow air out of the lungs and throat – although, really long periods of face-to-face contact with someone with MPox might be required for this to occur. We do know that samples of MPox sores on the skin appear to contain much more MPox DNA than throat swabs – suggesting MPox getting into your body through the air might be less of a risk. But activities where you could possibly inhale MPox – like shaking bed sheets with MPox – may also put you at risk and should be avoided.
You can reduce your risk of contracting Mpox by:
- Avoiding contact, including sexual contact, with people who are unwell or have compatible symptoms
- Avoid skin-to-skin contact, particularly with any rash or lesions
- Avoid contact with clothing, bedding or objects that have been in contact with or used by people with Mpox
- As always, practice good hygiene, self-isolate if unwell and seek medical attention if you develop any symptoms
What are the Symptoms of Mpox (Monkeypox/MPXV)?
Something as benign as a pimple could be Mpox.
Mpox can start as a general illness that seems like a cold that develops into a rash of disk-like pimples that covers areas of your body.
Symptoms include a fever, headache, muscle aches, low energy, swollen lymph nodes and a skin rash or lesions (these are similar to COVID or the flu).
These pimples will then crust over, become sores, and eventually your skin will heal. This process usually takes two to three weeks to complete.
How long does it take to show up?
Prior to the the 2022 global outbreak, it usually took about 5 to 13 days after Mpox got into your body for symptoms to show up – but symptoms can develop in just 4 days or take as long as 21 days to show. With the 2022 global outbreak, it often took 7 to 10 days for symptoms to appear.
What symptoms should I look for?
A general, unwell feeling is sometimes experienced in the early stages of having Mpox. At this early stage, it is hard to tell if you have Mpox, as these symptoms can be caused by other things that aren’t Mpox – like COIVD, the flu, some STIs, etc. The things to look out for in this early stage are a fever, a sore throat, back pain, a headache, and feeling fatigued. Sometimes, people don’t get any symptoms at all in the early stages and feel perfectly fine.
A rash: a rash of small (2 – 5 mm) disks that look like pimples that show up on any part of the body. Often, these pimples are found on or in the genitals, on and/or around the anus, or in the mouth.
Sometimes the rash will show up on the face, arm, chest, and legs. This rash can show up one or two days before, or three to four days after the general feeling of sickness described above. But remember, sometimes people don’t feel sick, and they experience just the rash. Ultimately, the rash will last for about two to three weeks after it first shows up and develops into sores that crust over and fall off. Images of the rash can be found here.
There have been cases of people with sore throats who report they have difficulty swallowing. There have also been cases of Mpox that caused sores on and around the anus, with rectal bleeding, pain, and inflammation. It is best to seek medical care from one of these GPs or your local sexual health clinic if you experience these symptoms.
How long can Mpox be passed on if someone has it?
If you have MPox avoid sexual contact with other people until symptoms resolve.
If you have been told you are contact with someone with a confirmed case of Mpox, avoid sexual contact for 21 days and monitor for symptoms.
MPox can be passed on whilst someone has symptoms: that is from when symptoms first appear and all the way through until the skin has healed completely – looking just like it did before the Mpox rash.
Is Mpox (Monkeypox/MPXV) Treatable?
Most Mpox is mild and can be treated at home with drinking enough water, taking paracetamol or ibuprofen, and rest.
Serious cases can be treated by a doctor with special training in infectious diseases.
Most people experience a mild illness, and if this is you, all you have to do is rest, make sure you’re drinking enough water, and manage pain and fever with paracetamol or ibuprofen. Getting better usually takes a few weeks.
Severe illness and/or for people with weakened immune systems
Some treatment options exist; however, this requires the expertise of a doctor that has special training in infectious diseases. If this is you, it is best to consult your GP or sexual health service to find out more.
ox is closely related to the virus that causes smallpox, the smallpox vaccine can protect people from getting Mpox. Vaccines are often encouraged for persons at greatest risk of getting Mpox.
It’s important we all continue to be self-aware of our health, remain vigilant for symptoms and take precautions as needed.
Because of the close contact with other people that comes with having sex, it is possible that Mpox could get into your body during sex if one or more of your sexual partners have Mpox.
At this time, sexual contact with multiple partners presents a higher likelihood of MPox transmission. As we wait for more vaccines to arrive, consider reducing your sexual partners for the time being. This will lessen your risk of exposure to MPox.
Consider limiting your hook-ups to people you know. Creating a bubble will reduce the likelihood of exposure to Mpox. Remember: this is not forever and that it’s only temporary. But this will help slow the spread of Mpox.
Easy ways you can reduce your risk from Mpox, and slow the spread in our community include:
- Get vaccinated now, Queensland has vaccines available
- Sharing your details and phone number with your partners so they can let you know if they come in contact with Mpox or develop symptoms. This will allow you to can access PEP if needed.
- Reduce your number of sexual partners
- Consider limiting your sex partners to people you know. Creating a bubble will reduce your risk of acquiring Mpox.
- Not sharing your sharing sex toys with others
- Having virtual sex through the phone or a webcam without personal contact
- Masturbating together without personal contact
- Using condoms for 8 weeks after recovering from Mpox.
- Keeping your clothes on to minimise skin-to-skin contact
- Avoiding kissing
Been or Going Travelling?
Are you a returned traveller from places with Mpox outbreaks and you hooked up or attended sex parties, saunas or sex clubs while away? Then reduce your hook-ups when you get home. It is recommended that you hold off from sex for 14 days so you can monitor your health. If symptoms develop, seek medical attention immediately.
If you are planning to travel, get vaccinated well before you go if possible. Whilst the new cases of Mpox have reduced, this could change rapidly.
- Get vaccinated before you go
- Follow public health alerts and advice from local health authorities of the countries/areas you are visiting
- If visiting festivals or large events, stay abreast of event updates (before and after) from organisers.
Been a Close Contact?
Contacts of people with confirmed cases of Mpox should avoid sexual contact for 21 days and monitor for symptoms.
If you have been identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive for MPox, you will receive a call from Queensland Health’s Public Health team. Follow the Public Health team’s recommendations, including instructions on limiting your movements, and if and when and how to attend a sexual health service for review.
If you think you have symptoms of Mpox, isolate at home and seek medical care by calling a sexual health clinic, a GP that has a lot of experience in sexual health (a list is found here), or call 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84).
It would be best to isolate at home but note you can leave to seek medical care in an emergency or any other situation that poses a risk to your safety and wellbeing. Medical advice for Mpox can be sought by calling these doctors (they will likely offer a telehealth appointment), calling your local sexual health clinic, or by ringing 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84).
If you live with other people, if possible, it would be best to isolate yourself in a room or area that is separate from the rest of your household. If this isn’t possible, you can minimise the risk of transmission by wearing longer clothing that covers the body and by wearing a face mask. Regular hand washing, wearing gloves for direct contact, and cleaning common surfaces will minimise the likelihood of passing MPox to the people you live with.
Follow instructions from your health care practitioner during your self-isolation and recovery. If you are living with HIV and require support, please contact us, we are here to help, but do contact 13 HEALTH or your local clinic first.
People who have contracted Mpox should not engage in any sexual activity while infectious. Avoid kissing and touching each other’s bodies – especially any rash or sores. Do not share things like sex toys or fetish gear during this time. And because it is not known how long Mpox remains present in semen and other genital excretions, people who have recovered should use condoms for eight weeks after recovery. This is a precaution to reduce the risk of spreading infection to sexual partners.
Mpox (Monkeypox/MPXV) in Queensland
Since May 2022 there have been 6 total cases of Mpox in Queensland, with no new cases reported in Queensland since September 2022. However, as recently as May 2023 Mpox has been detected in NSW, so we urge everyone to know what to look for, how to reduce their risk of Mpox, and get vaccinated. Lets work together and keep the total case number the same.
HIV and Mpox (Monkeypox/MPXV)
We know that people living with HIV do make up a higher than expected number of cases from outbreaks in Europe and the Americas. Why this is isn’t well understood, as most is based on research in countries where access to HIV treatment is low, which is very different to how we manage HIV in Australia.
At the moment people living with HIV should follow the same advice as the general population.
Should evidence emerge that people with suppressed immune systems are at greater risk of Mpox, or ill-health from catching the virus, then updated information and advice will be made available.
We would encourage any person living with HIV, to speak with their s100 prescribing doctor or your local sexual health service for advice about getting vaccination.