Mpox is a viral infection caused by the monkeypox virus. In Australia, the population most at risk of mpox are gay and bisexual men.
Mpox is transmitted through close physical contact with someone who has the virus - in particular through sexual or intimate contact.
While mpox is not classified as a sexually transmitted infection (STI), sexual contact with someone who has the virus poses a high risk of transmission. Sexual contact is also the main pathway for transmission of mpox in Australia.
Bodily fluids (such as fluid, pus or blood from skin lesions) and scabs are particularly infectious. Ulcers, lesions or sores in the mouth can also be infectious, meaning the virus can spread through saliva.
Symptoms can include fever, headache, muscle aches, low energy, and swollen lymph nodes (similar to the flu) before progressing to a skin rash or lesions. The rash usually begins within one to three days of the start of a fever. The rash or lesions can also be found on the face, arms, and legs as well as in the mouth and around the genitals/anus.
Because mpox rashes can resemble some STIs, it is important to contact your GP or local sexual health clinic and let them know about your symptoms when you make an appointment.
The incubation period (the time from infection to the onset of symptoms) of mpox is usually 7-14 days, but it can be as short as 1-2 days or as long as 21 days. Mpox symptoms lasting from 2 to 4 weeks.
While symptoms are typically mild, for some people with moderate to serious cases, mpox can be quite painful.
A doctor can test for mpox with a swab of the affected area of the skin.
Most people with mpox have a mild illness and recover within a few weeks without specific treatment.
There are antiviral tablets available for mpox, particularly for people at high-risk such as those who have weakened immune systems.
There is a vaccine available that can prevent mpox. The mpox vaccine is highly effective at preventing infection with the virus. Talk to your doctor about whether the vaccine is right for you and where to get it.
Mpox can be prevented by avoiding contact with people with suspected or confirmed mpox. This includes contact with any potentially contaminated materials, such as bedding and towels, that have been in contact with an infected person.
Mpox can also be prevented by ensuring you have the contact details of sexual partners, until you are fully vaccinated.
Gay and bisexual men and those who have sexual contact with this demographic should be aware of the symptoms of mpox and self-monitor for symptoms.
There is very limited evidence on mpox in people living with HIV. Most is based on research in countries where access to treatment is low, and people experience far worse health outcomes than in Australia.
People living with HIV should follow the same advice as the general population.