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For most people, the risk of contracting monkeypox is low. However, cases are occurring around the world, accelerated by monkeypox spreading, which can happen from person-to-person contact. Learn more about the causes and signs of monkeypox, as well as helpful advice on how to protect yourself and your family from the virus. 

What is monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a rare virus, which has been transmitted to humans from animals. 1A It primarily occurs in central and west Africa. 1B Although monkeypox often occurs in locations close to tropical rainforests, its prevalence has been increasing in urban areas. 1C

In 2003, the first monkeypox outbreak outside Africa was reported in the USA, linked to contact with infected pet prairie dogs. 1D Since then, monkeypox has been reported by travelers in several non-endemic countries, including Israel, Singapore, and the United Kingdom. 1E

Monkeypox signs and symptoms

Although it’s clinically less severe than smallpox, monkeypox has very similar symptoms. If you’re infected, monkeypox symptoms usually take between 5 and 21 days to appear. 2A Common first signs of monkeypox include:

  • A high temperature 2B
  • A headache 2C
  • Muscle aches 2D
  • Backache 2E
  • Swollen glands 2F
  • Shivering (chills) 2G
  • Lethargy/ exhaustion 2H
  • Joint pain 2I

After these first signs of monkeypox, usually 1-5 days later, a rash appears. Typically, the rash starts on the face before spreading to other parts of the body, such as the mouth, genitals and anus. 2J

This rash can sometimes be mistaken for chickenpox, as it has a similar appearance. It starts with raised spots, which turn into small blisters filled with fluid. Eventually, the blisters heal and scab before falling off. 2K

Symptoms of monkeypox usually clear after a few weeks. During this time, you will be contagious and at risk of spreading monkeypox to other people. 2L

How monkeypox spreads

Monkeypox spreading happens very easily from person to person through:

  • Close physical contact with monkeypox blisters or scabs (kissing, cuddling, holding hands etc.) 2M
  • Touching objects, fabrics and surfaces used by someone infected with monkeypox 2N
  • Droplets of saliva or mucus of a person infected with monkeypox 2O

In parts of west and central Africa, monkeypox spreading occurs in infected rodents, such as rats, mice and squirrels if:

  • You’re bitten 2P
  • You touch their fur, skin, blood, bodily fluids, spots, blisters or scabs 2Q
  • You eat them and it hasn’t been cooked thoroughly 2R

How to stop monkeypox spreading

Although the risk of monkeypox is low 2S, there are things you can do to reduce your chances of being infected and spreading it to others.

Wash your hands

Use an antibacterial hand wash to kill germs and bacteria. Wash your hands properly on a regular basis with warm water. When out and about, disinfect your hands with a hand sanitizer. 2T

Be aware of the symptoms

Knowing which monkeypox signs and symptoms to look out for is important to make sure you know when you’re infected, so you can take appropriate precautions. The first signs include a fever, aches and pains, tiredness, and swollen glands. 2U

Disinfect and keep surfaces clean

Monkeypox spreading can occur on surfaces, which have been touched by an infected person. 2V Keeping the surfaces in your home clean and germ-free is key to preventing viruses from spreading. Kitchens and bathrooms in particular are hotbeds for harmful germs and bacteria, so a multi-surface disinfectant spray is a great option for fast, easy cleaning. 

As well as on hard surfaces, monkeypox spreading can also occur when infected fabrics are touched. 2W Our citrus surface disinfectant spray can be used to kill bacteria on mattresses, pillows, and shower curtains, at the same time as controlling mold and mildew. To use, shake the can well, cover the affected area with mist, and allow to air dry. No need to wipe. 

At Dettol, our unique formula and range of household disinfectants are proven to kill 99.9% of bacteria and viruses on surfaces you come into contact with every day, at the same time as deodorizing to kill odor-causing germs. 

Speak to your sexual partner(s)

Discuss their sexual health and any symptoms they may have. To protect yourself from monkeypox spreading, you may also consider taking a break from sex and intimate contact altogether if you have symptoms and haven’t yet seen a doctor. 2X

Equally, there are things you should not do in order to reduce your risk of being infected with monkeypox, including:

  • Sharing a bed, towels or clothing with someone who may be infected with monkeypox
  • Being in close contact with someone who is displaying monkeypox signs and symptoms 
  • Going near wild or stray animals, including dead animals, particularly while traveling in west and central Africa
  • Eating or touching meat from wild animals, particularly while traveling in west or central Africa 2Y

How to treat monkeypox

Monkeypox symptoms are usually mild and most people will recover within a few weeks without treatment. In some cases, however, symptoms can be severe and you can become very unwell. You may even need to receive monkeypox treatment in a hospital.

Your risk of developing a severe case of monkeypox depends on:

  • Your age. Monkeypox can be more serious in older people and young children.
  • Your immune system. If you have a pre-existing condition or are taking certain medications, your immune system can be affected, increasing your risk. 

If you contract monkeypox, then you will need to isolate yourself in order to prevent it from spreading. Mild symptoms can usually be managed at home. However, if they become worse, it’s important to see your doctor. 2Z

The dangers of monkeypox

The West African outbreak of Monkeypox has a survival rate of more than 99% 3A, however, the symptoms can be very painful; the blisters can be extremely sore and itchy and there is a risk of permanent scarring. 

Some people have a higher risk of becoming seriously ill with monkeypox 3B, including those with weakened immune systems, a history of eczema, children who are under the age of 8-years-old, and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. 


What does monkeypox look like?

At first, monkeypox symptoms aren’t visible to the eye. The rash, which usually appears after 1-5 days after initial symptoms start, involves bumps that appear on the skin. The bumps look like pus-filled blisters or sores. Some people only have one or two bumps, while people with more severe monkeypox infections have many. 1D

How did monkeypox start?

Monkeypox was first identified in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1970. For decades, it has been endemic in parts of central and West Africa. 1E

Is there a cure for monkeypox?

At the moment, there is no cure or specified monkeypox treatment. There are, however, antiviral medications used to treat smallpox, which may help patients with monkeypox. 1F

Why is monkeypox called monkeypox?

The virus was given its name in 1970 after it was discovered on captive monkeys in 1958. It is now often referred to as mpox by many, including The World Health Organization, in an effort to reduce stigma around the name of the virus. 4A

Does the smallpox vaccine protect against monkeypox?

Yes; a single smallpox vaccine dose provides strong protection against monkeypox. It doesn’t, however, eradicate the risk of the virus completely. 5A

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