Mpox (Monkeypox)

Mpox (Monkeypox) is a virus transmitted through close contact including through clothing or bedding shared with someone who has the virus. Mpox is not a sexually transmitted infection. However, sexual activities usually involved close contact and so may lead to transmission, just like any other close contact activity.

Remember: Mpox is not a 2STLGBQ+ infection. There are more cases within the 2STLGBQ+ community because it is close-knit, with different patterns of contact than other groups. Being close increases opportunities for exposure. Anyone exposed to Mpox through close contact is at risk, it does not care about identity.

Why SERC calls it Mpox

SERC uses Mpox instead of Monkeypox to reduce stigma and racism. Some folks associate the term Monkeypox with Africa leading to racist assumptions. When viruses are associated with locations some people judge these places and people which is not okay. There are discussions about formally changing the name of this virus, but at the time of publishing this page (October 2022), that change has not happened. All infections come from somewhere and sometimes, like Mpox, move across the globe. Associating an infection with a particular place does not help us understand the current global outbreak, increases stigma, and distracts us from the info we need to look after our communities.

How is it spread?

Mpox is spread in 3 ways:

  1. From person to person. This is the most common way and happens through:
    1. Direct contact with an infected person’s skin lesions/scabs or mucous membranes (e.g., Eyes, mouth, vagina [front hole], anus [ass], nose).
    2. Respiratory particles (moisture droplets people naturally breathe out). This usually requires prolonged close face-to-face contact.
    3. Sharing body fluids such as blood and saliva.
    4. An infected pregnant person may pass the virus to their fetus.
  2. Contact with contaminated objects used by an infected person such as clothing, bedding, or towels.
  3. From infected animals to humans through bites, scratches or eating infected animals.

Most cases of Mpox have been through close, direct contact with an infected person. People usually develop symptoms 5 to 21 days after being exposed to the virus. An infected person can transmit Mpox for 5 days before the onset of symptoms (rash) and until all the skin lesions are gone.

Can it be prevented?

Yes, it can. Prevention means reducing your risk of getting Mpox. Mpox has a 2-dose vaccine which is available for free in Manitoba, although due to limited supply there may be restrictions on who currently qualifies. Vaccines are a highly effective and safe way to reduce the chances of getting Mpox and to prevent serious illness if you are infected. You can book your vaccine appointment online.

If you had recent contact with someone with Mpox getting the vaccine after exposure may still reduce your symptoms. Call Health Links at 1-888-315-9257 to discuss your options.

What are the symptoms? Testing and Treatment

Mpox includes a painful rash and lesions that can be on any part of the body. These typically last 14 to 28 days. Over time lesions may form scabs that later fall off. Flu-like symptoms may also happen including fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes, muscle or joint pain, headaches, and exhaustion.

The only way to know for certain is to get tested. If you think you may have Mpox contact a healthcare provider to arrange a test. You can also call Health Links at 1-888-315-9257

What if I have Mpox?

Most people recover on their own after a few weeks. If you have Mpox you will need to isolate yourself (stay away) from others until your skin has fully healed. This may take around 4 weeks. If you share a home with others, including pets, stay physically distanced.

In addition, you can help to reduce transmission by:

  • Wearing a medical mask around others.
  • Wearing loose clothing to cover lesions.
  • Covering lesions with medical wraps or bandages and changing these regularly.
  • Avoiding sharing objects like clothes, bedding, and towels.
  • Following hand washing hygiene by washing with soap and water for at least 15 seconds.

While rare, some people may become very sick or die. Severe cases may require additional medical support such as staying at a hospital or anti-viral medication.

Additional resources

As more research unfolds new info on Mpox will emerge. Check out these links for the latest local and national news.