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FAQs

 

What is monkey pox?
Monkeypox is a virus that is similar to, but less severe than, smallpox. It is usually transmitted to humans from animals but can also be spread between humans. Monkeypox primarily occurs in central and west Africa but increasing numbers have been appearing in other countries across the world, including Australia.

How is it transmitted?
Monkeypox spreads through close skin-to-skin physical contact with someone who has symptoms, such as when you are having sex, or by direct contact with contaminated objects, such as bedding, towels or clothes.

What are the symptoms?
Symptoms include:
·    rashes, lesions or sores, particularly in areas that are hard to see such as the genitals, anus or anal area or on the face, arms and legs
·    ulcers, lesions or sores in the mouth
·    fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and/or exhaustion.
Symptoms usually begin 7-14 days after exposure, but this can be as short as a few days or as long as 21 days.

I have symptoms, what should I do?
If you have symptoms, then please contact your local doctor or sexual health clinic. Alternatively, you can call SHIL on 1800 451 624. It is best to call in advance and not attend a health service in person. If you need to attend in person, wear a mask.

I’m a contact of monkey pox, what should I do?
If you have been in direct contact with monkeypox and have symptoms, then please contact your local doctor or sexual health clinic. Alternatively, you can call SHIL on 1800 451 624. It is best to call in advance and not attend a health service in person. If you need to attend in person, wear a mask.
If you are a direct contact of monkeypox but don’t have any symptoms, then please call NSW SHIL on 1800 451 624 for further information and advice.

What is the treatment for monkey pox?
The illness typically lasts for 2−4 weeks and is mild. Some patients may need simple pain medicines and oral fluids, with a health care professional monitoring their health.
A few patients may need supportive management such as intravenous fluids and medicine to control fever or pain and hospital care.
Some special medications are available to help treat patients with severe illness.
Saltwater bathing may help to ease discomfort and promote skin healing.

Is there a vaccination? How can I access it?
Monkeypox is very similar to the virus that causes smallpox.  The Ministry of Health is currently working hard to source and distribute smallpox vaccines, which are thought to have between 70-80% effectiveness on MPXV when a person is fully vaccinated (i.e., when two doses are received). However, there are a number of factors that make these vaccines difficult to source:
·    Smallpox was eradicated in the 1980s, and so we have not needed these vaccines for a very long time.
·    For this reason, there are very few locations in the world that make the vaccine.
·    As global cases of monkeypox have risen, so has demand for the vaccine.

For more information about the vaccine, and to register your interest to receive vaccination, please visit the ACON website.

Please do not contact ACON directly about receiving a vaccination, as your expression of interest will go to NSW Health for further management. ACON is unable to comment or provide information regarding the progress or outcome of your expression of interest.

Please note that expressing your interest in receiving a vaccine does not guarantee vaccine access.

I'd like to know more about the vaccine
You can find more information about the vaccine on ACON's website

Do I need the vaccine if I’ve had a smallpox vaccination in the past?
If you received your smallpox vaccine more than 10 years ago, then a booster may be required.

How can I protect myself and others?
It’s important to monitor yourself for symptoms before, during and after sex.
If you or a partner has MPVX, the best way to protect yourself and others is to avoid any skin-to-skin contact, especially with any rash, lesions or sores. Self-isolate and seek medical attention immediately.
ACON have recommended some safe sex strategies to reduce your risk of MPXV:
•    Use virtual methods (e.g. phone, webcam) with no person-to-person contact
•    Masturbate together without touching each other
•    Reduce as much skin-to-skin contact as possible by leaving on clothing
•    Avoid kissing
•    Avoid sharing sex toys
•    Use a condom during sex for at least 8 weeks after recovery from MPXV
•    Exchange contact information with your sexual partners to assist with contact tracing if needed.

I’m travelling overseas, what precautions should I take?
If you are planning to travel overseas, it is important to be aware of the situation in your destination country:
•    Travel alerts are available on the Smart Traveller website.
•    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 MPXV. If attending these, consider adopting safe sex strategies to reduce your risk of MPXV transmission.
You can reduce your risk of contracting MPXV overseas by:
•    Avoid contact, including sexual contact, with people who are unwell or have MPXV 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 MPXV.

I‘ve had monkeypox in the past, can I catch it again?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO): “Our understanding of how long immunity lasts following monkeypox infection is currently limited. We do not yet have a clear understanding whether a previous monkeypox infection gives you immunity against future infections and for how long, if so. Even if you have had monkeypox in the past, you should be doing everything you can to avoid getting re-infected.  
If you have had monkeypox in the past and someone in your household, has it now, you can protect others by being the designated caregiver, as you are more likely to have some immunity than others are. However, you should still take all precautions to avoid becoming infected.”


Can I have JYNNEOUS at the same time as a COVID vaccine?
The older ACAM2000 vaccine carries a risk of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) or pericarditis (inflammation of the lining of the heart), especially with given at the same time as mRNA vaccines such as those used for COVID. It is not known if JYNNEOS® also carries a risk of myocarditis or pericarditis. Spacing JYNNEOS® and a COVID-19 vaccine apart by several weeks may be considered for people with increased risk of myocarditis and/or pericarditis after mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, such as young adult males, talk to your doctor for further information.

 
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The Sexual Health Infolink acknowledges the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation as the Traditional Custodians of the land and waters where our offices are located. As a state-wide service, we further acknowledge the diverse Aboriginal peoples across New South Wales and their continuing connection to Country and culture. We pay our respect to Elders past and present.

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