How to spot a monkeypox rash as experts urge Brits to look out for unexplained spots


MONKEYPOX cases have risen over the past few weeks in the UK.

Experts have urged Brits to be on the look out for unexplained rashes and lesions, with infections feared to be community spread.

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Monkeypox rashes start about five days after exposure to the virusCredit: Alamy
They usually start on the face before moving down the torso

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They usually start on the face before moving down the torsoCredit: Alamy

Health chiefs are also probing the possibility the virus could be transmitted during sex.

This is due to new theories emerging surrounding the spread of the virus – which could have been due to intimate contact, such as during sex.

While it doesn’t necessarily mean it is a sexually transmitted disease in the exact sense that HIV is, it means any close contact that comes with sex could pass it on more easily.

It followed health chiefs warning gay and bisexual men to be on the lookout for new unexplained rashes.

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This came after four of the new cases identified as gay or bisexual, having all picked up the bug in London.

Infections have risen rapidly, after the first patient travelled with the virus back into Britain from Nigeria.

How do you know if you have monkeypox?

A monkeypox rash usually begins one to five days after the first symptoms appear, the NHS says.

Spots often start on the face before spreading to other parts of the body.

The rash affects the face mostly (95 per cent of cases) and hands (75 per cent), according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

During the illness, the rash changes from raised red bumps, to spots filled with fluid. 

The spots eventually erupt and form scabs which later fall off.

Scabs form near to the end of the illness, which fall off

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Scabs form near to the end of the illness, which fall off
The rash changes from raised red bumps, to spots filled with fluid

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The rash changes from raised red bumps, to spots filled with fluidCredit: Getty

People who catch monkeypox usually don’t show symptoms for at least five days.

But it could be up to 13 or even 21 days before the signs are obvious.

This period is called the “incubation period”.

The infection causes two periods of illness. In the first phase, up to five days, patients can suffer:

  • A high temperature – 38C or above.
  • A headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Backache
  • Swollen glands
  • Chills
  • Exhaustion

In phase two of the illness, the skin starts to erupt – usually within one to three days of the fever.

This has the more visible symptoms identifiable as monkeypox

You can catch monkeypox by touching the spots or scabs of someone infected, as well as their clothing or bedding. 

It can also be passed on from sneezing and coughing.

However, the likelihood of the virus transmitting among humans is considered low, unless you are in very close contact.

Monkeypox usually lasts from two to four weeks and can get better without treatment.

Severe cases occur more commonly among children.

Complications of monkeypox can arise – some deadly – including secondary infections such as sepsis, encephalitis, and infection of the cornea leading to vision loss.

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As many as one in 10 persons who contract the disease die, according to the WHO, mostly in younger people.

No one is known to have died of the disease in the UK.

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