SummaryRead the full fact sheet
- Mpox is a disease caused by infection with the mpox virus.
- It does not easily spread between people, as it usually requires prolonged physical or intimate (skin-to-skin) contact with an infectious person.
- If you develop symptoms, you are urged to seek medical care and testing and limit your contact with others until advised of your test result.
- Vaccine is widely available in Victoria, and if you are eligible, you can get vaccinated now.
- People who have had their first dose at least 28 days ago can now receive their second dose.
- Vaccination is available free-of-charge for eligible people through certain sexual health clinics and health services.
What is mpox?
Mpox (formerly known as monkeypox) is a disease caused by infection with the mpox virus. It typically results in a mild illness associated with a rash. It is spread mostly through prolonged physical or intimate (skin-to-skin) contact with someone who has mpox. Most people recover within a few weeks.
How does mpox spread?
Mpox does not spread easily between people. It is mostly spread from person-to-person through prolonged physical or intimate contact with someone who has mpox, especially with skin rashes, lesions, sores or scabs.
It can also spread through contact with clothing or linens (such as bedding or towels) used by an infected person. Sometimes it can spread through respiratory droplets (such as coughs and sneezes) from an infected person, however this is less likely.
It does not spread via casual contact. In endemic areas, spread of mpox may occur through contact with infected wild animals.
People with mpox are infectious from the time that they develop their first symptoms until all lesions crust, dry and fall off with a new layer of skin forming underneath.
What are the symptoms of mpox?
Symptoms may develop up to 21 days from close contact with someone with mpox.
Mpox symptoms can include a rash that can be painful and affect any part of the body including:
- area around the anus and buttocks
- inside the mouth
- hands and arms
- feet and legs.
The rash associated with mpox may involve vesicles, pustules, pimples or ulcers. The number of lesions varies. The rash may change and go through different stages, like , before finally becoming a scab that falls off.
Other mpox symptoms can include general symptoms that can occur before or alongside the rash, such as:
Most people with mpox have a mild illness and recover within a few weeks. However, some people may develop severe disease and require hospitalisation.
Children, pregnant women and people with a weakened immune system are considered at higher risk of developing severe disease.
Who is at risk?
Anyone who has prolonged physical or intimate contact (such as skin-to-skin contact) with someone who has mpox can become infected.
People at highest risk are men who have sex with men, particularly those who are travelling to outbreak areas, have multiple sexual partners or attend large parties or sex on premises venues.
In Victoria, no infections have been seen so far in children and women.
What to do if you develop symptoms of mpox?
If you develop symptoms of mpox you should stay home, restrict your contact with others, and seek medical care and testing without delay.
What should you do if you are diagnosed with mpox?
People with mpox should avoid contact with others, especially children, pregnant women and people with a weakened immune system. This includes sharing of beds and sexual activity. While condoms are recommended and will protect against some sexually transmitted infections, they may not be effective at preventing the spread of mpox.
You should also avoid contact with animals including pets, due to the risk of human-to-animal spread.
Avoid contact with others until skin lesions are healed with a new layer of skin forming underneath. Make sure to have a follow up appointment with your treating doctor as they will provide clearance and further clinical advice if needed. Following clearance, people who have had mpox should use a condom when having sex for a further 8 weeks as a precaution.
An officer of the Department of Health or Local Public Health Unit (LPHU) will contact you to see how you are doing and undertake contact tracing.
What should you do if you are identified as a contact of mpox?
Some people may be at increased risk of developing mpox after coming into prolonged physical or intimate contact with someone with mpox.
If you are identified as a contact, monitor for symptoms. Depending on the level of risk, you may be advised to follow additional measures by the Department of Health or Local Public Health Unit.
How can mpox be prevented?
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 limiting your number of sexual partners and ensuring that you have their contact details, until you are fully vaccinated. Limit sexual partners for three weeks following your return from overseas countries where there are active mpox outbreaks. Vaccination will also protect people from mpox.
People who are at highest risk should be aware of the symptoms of mpox and self-monitor for symptoms. Maintaining good hygiene practices such as washing hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based sanitiser is important.
Vaccination against mpox is another highly effective preventative measure. The best time for people to get the vaccine is before they are exposed to mpox.
What treatment is available for mpox?
Treatment for mpox is mainly supportive. Mpox typically results in mild illness and most people recover within a few weeks. Effective antiviral treatments are available for severe disease so early testing and presentation to a health service is important.
What immunisation is available against mpox?
In Victoria, the mpox vaccine (JYNNEOS® vaccine) is available free-of-charge for eligible people. If you are eligible, you can get vaccinated now.
It can be used to prevent or reduce the risk of infection in:
Two doses are required for optimal protection and can be given 28 days apart. The mpox vaccine takes approximately 14 days before it is effective. People who have been vaccinated should continue to follow advice to reduce their risk of mpox.
People who have had their first dose at least 28 days ago can now receive their second dose.