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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Mpox (monkeypox)

Mpox (monkeypox) is a viral disease that can pass between animals and humans. This is known as a zoonotic disease. It was first identified in humans in 1970.

Previously, mpox was usually only found in Western Africa but there are now cases around the world, including in New Zealand.

It's a notifiable disease in New Zealand, meaning it must be reported to the local medical officer of health.

Mpox doesn't easily spread between people, but you can catch it from direct contact with the infectious rash or body fluids such as pus or blood, and contact with saliva from an infected person, such as during kissing.

You can also catch it from touching clothing and items that have been contaminated with the virus. Babies in the womb can catch it from their mothers.

You will not notice symptoms of mpox until 12 days after you catch the virus.

If you have mpox, you'll need to stay at home and self-isolate for at least seven days from when your symptoms started to reduce the risk of infecting others. See Infection prevention and control for mpox (monkeypox) for more information on how to isolate and prevent infecting others.

Symptoms of mpox

The first symptoms of mpox are usually:

A rash generally appears after a few days. It usually starts on your face then spreads to other parts of your body. It may also appear on the palms of your hands and soles of your feet, inside your mouth or on your genitals.

Mpox is usually a mild illness, but a small number of people become very unwell.

Getting help with mpox

If you think you may have been exposed to mpox and you develop symptoms, particularly a rash, stay away from other people and call your general practice team, Sexual Health Centre or Healthline (0800-611-116) for advice.

If a health professional wants to see you, wear a mask and cover any rash or blisters.

If you're identified as a close contact of someone with mpox, your local public health unit will guide you with monitoring your symptoms and checking your temperature for 21 days from your last contact with that person. See the Ministry of Health's mpox page for more information about what to do if you're a close contact.

Treating mpox

The treatment for mpox mainly aims to reduce the symptoms. It includes rest and paracetamol.

The illness is usually mild, and recovery usually takes a few weeks.

See the World Health Organization's page about recovering from monkeypox at home for information about looking after yourself and preventing spreading the disease to other people.

Preventing mpox

If you've been in contact with a person or animal with mpox, wash your hands really thoroughly.

Avoid close contact with people with suspected or confirmed mpox and do not share their clothing or bedding.

If you're travelling to a region where mpox is known to be present, avoid contact with animals that could have the virus.

Vaccination

The mpox vaccine is now available in New Zealand.

The vaccine will be free and available to those considered high risk, which includes gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM) who have multiple sexual partners, trans and non-binary people who have sex with MSM, and anyone who is a close contact of someone who has been infected with mpox.

You will need to have a consultation with a health professional to discuss your risk of exposure to mpox and options, benefits and risks of vaccination.

To check your eligibility, contact your general practice team or the Sexual Health Centre.

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Content shared between HealthInfo Canterbury, KidsHealth and Health Navigator NZ as part of a National Health Content Hub collaborative. Page created July 2022. Last updated January 2023.

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Page reference: 1032105

Review key: HIMON-1032105