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Mpox or monkeypox is a disease caused by the monkeypox virus. It enters the body through broken skin (even if not visible) or the respiratory tract. It can also enter through the eyes, nose or mouth.
Mpox has been reported in Canada, including in B.C. However, the risk of mpox to the general public is low. There is no need for the general public to get vaccinated.
Vaccination is available to close contacts and those at the highest risk of infection.
How it spreads
Mpox can spread from animals to humans, from person to person and through contact with objects that have been used by someone with mpox.
Mpox spreads through close, personal and often skin-to-skin contact, including:
- Direct contact (skin-to-skin) with sores or blisters of a person with mpox
- Contact with items like bedding or towels that have been used by someone with mpox
- Respiratory droplets during prolonged close, face-to-face contact with a person who has mpox, such as kissing
Most cases in the current outbreak have been passed from person to person during close, intimate contact during sex.
According to BC Centre for Disease Control, mpox can spread from animals to humans, from person-to-person and through contaminated objects. Symptoms can last 2 to 4 weeks and occur in two stages. In the first stage, symptoms can include:
- Intense headache
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Back pain
- Muscle pain
- Fatigue or exhaustion
- Other less common symptoms can include sore throat, cough, nausea or vomiting and diarrhea
The second stage usually starts 1 to 5 days after stage one. Second stage symptoms can include:
- A rash that often starts on the face or legs and arms. This can affect other parts of the body, such as the hands, feet, mouth and genitals
- Mpox sores usually last between 2 to 3 weeks. The sores change in appearance over time from raised spots to small blisters filled with fluid. They eventually form a scab and fall off
If you have been exposed to mpox
If you have had contact with a person with known or suspected mpox, please monitor for symptoms. Symptoms can develop within 5 days to 3 weeks after exposure.
If you think you have been exposed but have not yet been contacted by public health, you can contact your regional health authority's local public health office.
Public health is reaching out to known contacts of the cases at risk of developing the infection. Public health does not use pre-recorded or automated calls to notify individuals of infections or possible exposure to mpox or other communicable diseases.
If you become ill
If you become ill and have had contact with a person with known or suspected mpox:
- Contact your healthcare provider to get tested. Tell your healthcare provider if you have had contact with a person with known or suspected mpox
- Find a clinic at SmartSexResource.com
While waiting to see your healthcare provider, please:
- Avoid close, intimate contact and sex with others
- It is especially important to avoid close contact with people who may be at greater risk of experiencing severe illness, including pregnant people, people with a weakened immune system or children
- Do not share towels, clothing, sheets or other things that have touched your skin
- Cover any sores or blisters as much as possible with clothing or bandages
- Wear a mask when you are in close contact with others
- If possible, ask other members of your household, family or friends to look after any pets so you do not spread mpox to animals
- Dispose masks, bandages, or other contaminated materials in a high quality garbage bag and keep in an animal-proof receptacle to prevent access by pets or wild animals (particularly, rodents)
If mpox is confirmed, public health will contact you to give more instructions.
After testing positive for mpox
See your healthcare provider or go to your nearest Urgent Primary Care Centre or Emergency Department if you experience the following:
- Worsening or new throat or rectal pain
- Severe fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or chest pain
- New pox lesions on multiple parts of your body
Mpox is usually a mild illness and most people recover on their own after a few weeks. People experiencing more severe disease may require medications to manage pain or skin infections, or in rare cases, need other supportive treatment in hospital.
Vaccination against mpox
Imvamune is the vaccine used in Canada to protect against mpox. It helps your body build immunity without getting very sick.
The vaccine can be used two ways:
Before exposure to the monkeypox virus
The vaccine is given before getting exposed to the virus to help protect against mpox. This is called Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis.
After exposure to the monkeypox virus, before you have symptoms
The vaccine is given after being exposed to prevent illness or severe outcomes. This is called Post-Exposure Prophylaxis.
People who are moderately to severely immunocompromised should be offered 2 doses, 4 weeks apart.
For more information about who is eligible to get a vaccine and how to book an appointment, visit:
No vaccine is 100% effective. If you have been vaccinated and develop symptoms, follow the steps under “If you become ill” to protect yourself and others.
For information on the situation in B.C., please visit BC Centre for Disease Control: Monkeypox - Current Situation.
For information on the situation in Canada, refer to the Public Health Agency of Canada.
For other information about mpox, visit:
- BC Centre for Disease Control: Monkeypox.
- BC Centre for Disease Control: Monkeypox Vaccine
- FNHA-Mpox-FAQs.pdf (PDF 83.0 kb)
- Government of Canada: Monkeypox - Advice for travellers
- Vancouver Coastal Health Authority: Monkeypox
For recommendations for the 2SGBTQ+ community, see BCCDC: Recommendations for Two-Spirit, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer communities (2SGBTQ+).
Last Updated: December 12, 2022