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Multi-country Monkeypox outbreak (Update 1)

02 Aug 2022

Over 21,000 cases have been reported globally in the current outbreak of monkeypox, which was first identified in May 2022 in people who had no recent travel to Central or West Africa, and no contact with infected animals. As of 01 August 2022, the USA, Spain, Germany, UK and France have each reported more than 1000 cases.

In Central and West Africa, where monkeypox is endemic, an increase in case numbers has also been noted, which may be due to increased awareness and testing.

On 21 July 2022, the WHO declared the current monkeypox outbreak a public health emergency of international concern. WHO advise the following people should avoid travelling internationally until they are no longer considered infectious and/or a risk to public health:

  • anyone with confirmed, probable or suspected monkeypox
  • anyone with signs and symptoms compatible with monkeypox
  • anyone who has been identified as a contact of a monkeypox case whilst they are undergoing health monitoring

Advice to Travellers

Monkeypox, due to the monkeypox virus, occurs mainly in remote parts of Central and West Africa. Most infections result from touching or eating infected animals, primarily rodents (rats, mice and squirrels) and monkeys.

In the current outbreak of monkeypox, transmission between people is thought to be occurring between people through close personal contact, including during sex, with a person infected with monkeypox, or from their coughs and sneezes or clothing and personal items. To date the majority of cases have been noted in the gay, bisexual or men who have sex with men (GBMSM) community.

If you are travelling to Central or West Africa you should:

  • practise careful hand hygiene if you are visiting or caring for ill friends and relatives
  • avoid contact with monkeys and rodents (rats, mice and squirrels) and avoid eating undercooked meat from these animals
  • wear protective clothing, including gloves, if you are involved in the slaughter or care of animals in these regions

If you are travelling to any destination and will be sexually active during travel you should:

  • be aware of the risk of monkeypox, particularly if GBMSM
  • practise safe sex
  • avoid close, including sexual contact, with someone who is unwell and may have monkeypox.

Seek medical advice during or for 21 days after travelling if you develop symptoms of monkeypox and have had close contact with someone who may have monkeypox, or have returned from Central or West Africa

  • make sure you are checked for malaria if you are returning from Africa with a fever or flu-like illness

While a vaccine specifically against monkeypox is not available, the smallpox vaccine provides some protection.

  • for information about the vaccine, see NHS inform (Scotland) and NHS.UK (rest of UK)

For further information on the disease and how you can protect yourself, see the MonkeypoxSexual Health Risks and LGBT travellers pages.