Monkeypox is a rare but potentially serious disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. 

How does it spread?

Monkeypox virus does not easily spread between people, as it usually requires very close contact.

It is spread by

  • skin-to-skin contact with monkeypox skin rashes, sores, or scabs. This includes contact during intimate or sexual activity, such as:  
    1. Oral, anal, and vaginal sex 
    2. Touching and skin-to-skin contact 
    3. Hugging and kissing
  • Contact with contaminated surfaces (such as clothing, towels or bedding) or through respiratory droplets
  • Respiratory droplets (from coughs or sneezes) from a person with monkeypox, usually from extended face-to-face contact

Who is at risk?

Monkeypox can affect anyone who comes into direct contact with someone who is infected. However, currently monkeypox is largely impacting gay, bisexual or other men who have sex with men. 

To lower the risk of infection: 

  • Avoid contact, including sexual contact, with people who are unwell especially with anyone with a rash or sores 
  • Household members should avoid physical contact with the infected person, including with any materials, such as linen or towels, that have been in contact with an infected person
  • Use a condom when engaging in any sort of sexual activity. This can reduce the chance of getting sores in sensitive areas and prevent other sexually transmitted infections
  • Avoid skin-to-skin contact
  • Wash hands often

Symptoms and treatment

People with monkeypox develop a rash that can be painful and could affect any part of the body.

People may also have flu-like symptoms, such as fever, headache and muscle aches and pains. 

People with monkeypox are infectious from the time that they develop their first symptom until all lesions have crusted, scabs have fallen off and a fresh layer of skin has formed underneath.

Most people will recover in 2-4 weeks. More severe cases, while uncommon, can occur among children and people with compromised immunity. 

Treatment is mainly supportive, though antivirals may be used in severe cases.

People with symptoms of monkeypox should seek medical care. 

When possible, they should call ahead so they can be isolated, as well as wear a mask and cover any lesions. 

Any person suspected of having monkeypox and undergoing testing should isolate while awaiting the result.

Who is eligible for the vaccine for monkey pox?

The vaccine for monkeypox is now available free-of-charge for specific priority groups. Eligibility criteria will be limited while the Department of Health secures additional supply. This information will change over time. 

Monkeypox vaccination is currently available for the following priority groups:  

  • Post exposure prophylaxis (PEP) for high-risk close contacts of monkeypox cases identified within 4 days of exposure 
  • Laboratory workers who analyse specimens from monkeypox cases 
  • Sexually active gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (including cisgender and transgender men) 
  • Who have also had a sexually transmitted infection in the last 12 months, OR 
  • Are intending to attended large parties where sex or intimate or other skin-to-skin contact may occur during overseas travel to Europe or North America before 31 October, OR 
  • Who attend sex on premises venues 
  • Sexually active gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (including cisgender and transgender men) who are homeless, or have significant drug use or psychiatric illness 
  • Sex workers who engage in sex with gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men 

To enquire about local access to the Monkey Pox Vaccine please email Grampians Public Health Unit - phu@bhs.org.au

Vaccine enquiries can also be made at the following metropolitan clinics.  

For more information

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