Learn about monkeypox

On this page:

Monkeypox is a disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. Monkeypox virus is part of the same family of viruses as variola virus, the virus that causes smallpox. Monkeypox symptoms are similar to smallpox symptoms, but milder and monkeypox is rarely fatal. Monkeypox is not related to chickenpox.

Cases in Canada

Find monkeypox cases in Canada. 

Symptoms

Monkeypox is usually a self-limited viral infection with a rash that may be painful. Most people recover on their own after a few weeks.

Developing symptoms

  • People usually develop symptoms 5 to 21 days after being exposed to the monkeypox virus.
  • Symptoms typically last from 2 to 4 weeks and may pass through several stages.

About the rash

The rash can be painful and could affect any part of the body, such as the:

  • mouth;
  • genitals;
  • perianal;
  • face;
  • arms and legs;
  • feet; and
  • hands.

The rash usually lasts between 14 and 28 days and changes through different stages. It finally forms scabs that later fall off. The rash can be accompanied by general symptoms such as:

  • fever;
  • chills;
  • swollen lymph nodes;
  • headache;
  • muscle pain;
  • joint pain;
  • back pain; and
  • exhaustion

How long are you contagious?

You're contagious from the onset of first symptoms until the scabs fall off on their own and your skin is healed.

Transmission

Monkeypox is transmitted from:

  • animal-to-human through direct contact with blood, bodily fluids or lesions of infected animals; or
  • human-to-human through close contact with respiratory droplets, skin lesions or contaminated objects from an infected person.

In Canada, the majority of cases at this time are men who reported intimate sexual contact with other men. However, it's important to stress that the risk of exposure to the monkeypox virus is not exclusive to any group or setting.

Testing

If you have monkeypox symptoms, find out if you should get tested:

  • contact your health care provider;
  • contact your family doctor;
  • contact your health care centre; or
  • visit the emergency room.

Vaccination

Contacts of a known case of monkeypox may be offered vaccination to reduce their risk of severe disease.

Resources

BC Centre for Disease Control

Government of Canada

World Health Organization