What you need to know about monkeypox

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 the EU, a little under 3000 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. Currently, there is no general spreading of cases among men who have sex with men in Sweden.

What are the symptoms?

According to ECDC, most common symptoms are skin rashes with blisters and sores on the genitals, anally or around the mouth, which indicates sexual transmission. Other symptoms can be 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 and heal by themselves. Out of the to-date confirmed cases, very few have become seriously ill and nobody has died during this outbreak.

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 have a rash with blisters and sores around the genitals, anally or around the mouth, 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. 

Sexperterna made an interview with Finn Filén, chief physician at Venhälsan at Södersjukhuset in Stockholm about monkeypox. Read it at Sexperterna’s website: https://sexperterna.org/fragor-om-apkoppor-med-finn-filen/.

Read more about how RFSL works with sexual health.