UPDATE: 14 August 2023
NSW Health has issued an alert following the detection of two new cases of mpox in NSW.
This brings the total number of cases to 63 since May 2022.
The recent cases have involved overseas travel.
Data shows the global hotspot locations in 2023 are in the South-East Asia and Western Pacific regions, including in Japan, South Korea, Thailand and China.
Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men who are sexually active are encouraged to get vaccinated as soon as possible against mpox.
If travelling overseas, particularly to hotspot locations, stay safe by:
- Avoiding close contact with people who have mpox or mpox symptoms
- Avoiding contact with infected materials, such as bedding or towels
- Exchanging contact information with sexual partners
- Practising good hand hygiene
What is mpox?
Mpox is an infection caused by the monkeypox virus, that causes a rash. It is spread by skin-to-skin contact with someone who has mpox, including during sex and through sexual networks. Since May 2022, there have been cases of mpox reported from multiple countries where mpox is not usually seen. Most of the cases are in men who have sex with men.
While most cases have been acquired overseas, a small number have acquired their infections in Australia.
You can read more and keep up to date with the latest on mpox from ACON here.
Get the mpox vaccine in NSW
All sexually active gay, bisexual men and men who have sex with men (cis and trans), as well as anyone who has sex with these men, including women (cis and trans), and non-binary people, and sex workers are eligible to get the vaccine.
Two doses are required. Anyone who has only received one dose of the vaccine should get a second dose at least 28 days after the first.
What are the symptoms of mpox?
Symptoms of mpox include skin lesions, sores or a rash alongside a fever, headache, fatigue and swollen lymph nodes.
The rash, lesions or sores may be in areas that are hard to see such as the genitals and anus, anal area or in the mouth. They may also be on the face, arm, chest, back and legs.
The rash, lesions or sores may vary from person to person – for some it can look like pimples, for others they may resemble blisters. Rashes may also look like herpes or syphilis.
Most people develop symptoms in 1-2 weeks but the incubation period (the time from infection to the onset of symptoms) can be up to 21 days.
People may experience all or only a few of these symptoms. Most people with mpox will get a rash, while others may develop sores before developing flu-like symptoms. Some may not develop any flu-like symptoms at all.
What should I do if I develop symptoms or have been exposed to mpox?
If you develop any symptoms or have been exposed to mpox:
- Avoid contact with others and seek medical attention immediately.
- Call your doctor or local sexual health clinic via phone or use telehealth services.
- Call the NSW Sexual Health Infolink on 1800 451 624.
- Do not attend a health service in the first instance – call first.
- Avoid public transport.
- Wear a surgical mask.
- Cover any lesions with clothing or dressings. Ask your doctor or clinic what type of skin dressing to use.
- Avoid sex or being intimate with anyone until examined.
- Avoid gatherings, particularly if they involve close, skin-to-skin contact with other people.
How is mpox transmitted?
Unlike other viruses such as COVID-19, mpox does not spread easily from person to person, so the risk to the population remains low.
Mpox is transmitted through close physical contact with someone who has symptoms. This includes through:
- Skin rashes, lesions or sores
- Bodily fluids (such as fluid, pus or blood from skin lesions)
- Ulcers, lesions or sores in the mouth (meaning the virus can spread through kissing)
- Ulcers, lesions or sores in and around the anal area and anus
Clothing, linens, or objects that have come into contact with a person who has mpox can also present as a risk for onward transmission.
You can also acquire mpox when a person with mpox has respiratory symptoms and sneezes or coughs and you inhale infected droplets.
Mpox may also be passed on during sex. It is not known how long mpox remains present in semen and other genital excretions. People who have recovered from mpox should use condoms when engaging in sexual activity for eight weeks after recovery.
How is mpox treated?
Most people with mpox have a mild illness meaning that it resolves within a few weeks without specific treatment.
There are some therapies available for the treatment of mpox, particularly for people at high-risk, such as those who are immunosuppressed.
Am I at greater risk if I’m HIV-positive?
Evidence on mpox in people living with HIV is very limited. Most of this is based on research in countries where access to treatment is low and where people experience far more negative health outcomes than in Australia.
At the moment, people living with HIV should follow the same health advice as the general population. Should new evidence emerge that impacts people living with HIV, then updated information and advice will be made available.
If you have recently travelled to Australia from overseas…
If you have recently arrived in Australia from overseas, especially if you are travelling from East or Southeast Asia, keep an eye out for symptoms for 21 days after your arrival.
In the past, we’ve also seen mpox transmission in international travellers who have attended dance parties, sex parties or saunas while travelling across Europe and North America. So if you share these circumstances, also keep an eye out for symptoms for 21 days after your arrival to Australia.
During this time, consider having a break from sex until the end of the incubation period.
If you develop any symptoms, particularly an unusual rash, lesions or sores, seek medical advice immediately.
Call the NSW Sexual Health Infolink on 1800 451 624 or call your doctor or local sexual health clinic via phone or telehealth.
If needed, you can call the translating and interpreting service to help access Australian health services (such as NSW Sexual Health Infolink) in your language by calling 13 14 50 and speaking with an operator for free.
Remember: do not attend a health service in the first instance – be sure to call first.
If you are planning to travel overseas …
If you are planning to travel overseas, especially to a known mpox hotspot such as areas in Europe or North America, it is important to stay informed and remain aware of developments:
- Get vaccinated if you are able. People travelling to locations with known mpox outbreaks are considered at high risk and are eligible to get the vaccine. Be sure you allow enough time to get two doses before travel.
- Follow public health alerts and advice from local health authorities of the countries you are visiting.
- Keep alert of any event updates (before and after) from organisers if you are visiting festivals or large events.
- Be aware and exercise caution if you plan to attend sex parties or SOPVs, particularly in places where there are identified cases of mpox. If attending these, consider adopting safe sex strategies to reduce your risk of mpox transmission.
- Visit WHO for an updated list of affected destinations.
- Visit Smart Traveller for travel alerts.
You can reduce your risk of contracting mpox overseas:
- Avoid contact, including sexual contact, with people who are unwell or have mpox symptoms.
- Avoid skin-to-skin contact, particularly with any rash, lesions or sores.
- Avoid contact with clothing, bedding or objects that have been in contact with or used by people with mpox.
- Always practise good hygiene.
If you develop any symptoms overseas, self-isolate and seek local medical attention immediately.
Where can I get more information?
Here are some sources of information:
You can also call the NSW Sexual Health Infolink on 1800 451 624.
NSW Health have translated information factsheets available in: