Monkeypox

Updated October 17th 2022.

Monkeypox is a virus that can be spread from animal to human, but also between humans. Recently, an unusually large number of cases have been confirmed in many countries. Transmission seems to have happened mainly through sex between men who have sex with men, but all channels of transmission are not yet understood. RFSL has compiled a list with answers to common questions about monkeypox.

What is monkeypox and how does it spread?

Monkeypox is a virus that can spread from animal to human and between humans. It’s a virus that does not spread easily between people. Foremost, the virus is transmitted through close physical contact. The virus is believed to spread through large drops from the airways, through bodily fluids and fluid from blisters. According to the Public Health Agency of Sweden, all ways of transmission haven’t been investigated.

How common is it?

In Sweden, 206 cases have been confirmed so far during the ongoing outbreak, mainly among men aged 20-59. About half of all cases regard transmission within Sweden. Most cases have been reported in the Stockholm region. In the EU, nearly 25 000 cases have been confirmed so far during the ongoing outbreak. According to ECDC, the European centre for disease control, transmission seems to have occurred in sexual contact between men who have sex with men.

What are the symptoms?

Common symptoms are skin rashes with blisters and sores on the genitals, anally, in the face or around the mouth, or on other parts of the body. Other common symptoms are fever, head and muscle aches and swollen lymph nodes.

The incubation period for monkeypox, i.e. the time it takes from when the virus enters the body to when you start experiencing symptoms, is usually 6-13 days but may vary between 5 and 21 days.

How dangerous is it?

The symptoms are often mild, but can cause pain and discomfort. The infection often heals by itself within two to four weeks. Out of the to-date confirmed cases, very few have become seriously ill. There have been cases where people have had to be hospitalized, due to problems with eating caused by painful blisters in the mouth.

What should I think about?

It’s good to be watchful of symptoms. If you’ve had new sexual contacts over the past few weeks and experience potential symptoms, you should contact 1177 or the nearest sexual health clinic.

Transmission can be prevented by avoiding close physical contact, including sexual contact, with people who carry the virus. 

Vaccination

Vaccines are offered to men who have sex with men with multiple sex partners. If you’re interested in getting the vaccine, reach out to your local infectious disease/STD clinic to learn how to access it in your region.

Read more about Monkeypox and the ongoing outbreak on the homepage of The Public Health Agency of Sweden.

Read more about how RFSL works with sexual health.

Read more about Monkeypox: The Sexperts questions to Finn Filén, Chief Physician at Venhälsan på Södersjukhuset in Stockholm.