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Advice if you suspect that you are infected with monkeypox
What should you do if you suspect you are infected with monkeypox?
If you have symptoms consistent with monkeypox, call a doctor to make an appointment. Inform them about your suspicion of monkeypox so that they can make arrangements for examination and testing. This is especially important if you have been in contact with a person who has been diagnosed with monkeypox, if you have had casual sex or have had many or anonymous sexual partners in Norway, or if you have been travelling.
If you suspect that you are infected, you should take precautions and avoid close contact with others until a negative test result confirms that you are not infected.
If a monkeypox diagnosis is confirmed, you should go into isolation immediately.
Contact tracing will be initiated if monkeypox is detected. You are considered to be contagious from the onset of the first symptoms (fever, headache, etc., or from 48 hours before the onset of the rash if this is the only symptom) and as long as you have the rash, i.e., until the scabs have dried up and new skin has formed underneath. It is important to notify all your close contacts throughout this period.
How is monkeypox transmitted?
Monkeypox is caused by a virus (monkeypox virus) and causes disease with fever and rash. The disease is known to be transmitted from animals to humans in some African countries. In the current outbreak (discovered in May 2022), we see transmisson between people via close contact with blisters, body fluids and droplets. Sexual contact with an infected person involves an increased risk of becoming infected and is the most common mode of transmission in the ongoing outbreak, which so far has mainly affected men. Kissing can also pose a transmission risk. For droplet transmission to occur, close contact over a longer period of time (hours) is usually required.
How long can you be infected before developing symptoms?
The time from infection until symptoms appear is 5-21 days (usually 6-13 days).
What are the symptoms of monkeypox?
The first symptoms are usually fever, fatigue and headache. Muscle aches and stiffness are common. Some people may develop swollen lymph nodes, with an itchy and / or painful rash developing at the same time or after a few days. The rash develops into blisters, which crust over to form scabs that eventually fall off. Scarring can occur.
In the ongoing outbreak (discovered in May 2022), for many the rash began around the genitals and in the buttock and rectal region. The rash can also begin on the face or in the mouth and can spread to the rest of the body and may then resemble chickenpox. Some also have rashes in the palms and soles of the feet. The rash can also be sparse, with just a few small blisters or sores, and may resemble herpes.
The disease course normally lasts 2 to 4 weeks. You are contagious from the start of symptoms until the scabs fall off and new skin has formed underneath (approximately 3 weeks).
There is a vaccine against smallpox that can provide protection against monkeypox. This is now approved in Europe for use against monkeypox. For the time being, we recommend this vaccine for preventive use only after an exposure to monkeypox (Post-exposure vaccination) to prevent disease or reduce its severity.
Do you suspect you may be infected?
Are you living in Norway and suspect that you might be infected? Call your doctor to arrange an appointment. Are you a tourist in Norway? Call the out-of-hours medical service on 116 117. Staying in Oslo? Call +47 21 80 21 82 (Koronatelefonen). Testing for monkeypox is free of charge.