What is monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a rare illness caused by the monkeypox virus.

One of the symptoms is a rash that is sometimes confused with chickenpox.

Monkeypox can be spread when someone comes into close contact with an infected person.

The virus can enter the body through:

  • broken skin
  • the respiratory tract
  • eyes
  • nose
  • mouth


It usually takes between 5 to 21 days for the first symptoms to appear once infected.

Symptoms include:

  • fever
  • headache
  • muscle aches
  • backache
  • swollen lymph nodes
  • chills
  • exhaustion

A rash can develop which often begins on the face. It can then spread to other parts of the body which can include the genitals.

The rash changes and goes through different stages before finally forming a scab which later falls off.

How it can spread

The virus can spread if there is close contact between people by:

  • touching clothing, bedding or towels used by someone with monkeypox
  • touching monkeypox skin blisters or scabs
  • the coughs or sneezes of a person with monkeypox

What to do if you think you are infected

If you think you have monkeypox symptoms – however mild: contact NHS 111 or call a sexual health clinic. Your call will be treated sensitively and confidentially.

UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA)

UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) is investigating the recent cases in England.

UKHSA has published a blog: Information on monkeypox and our investigation into recent cases

UKHSA will post regular updates on GOV.UK.

Page updated on: 31 May 2022