MPX is a viral disease that can be transmitted by close contact with skin lesions, body fluids, respiratory droplets, and contaminated materials.
Community transmission cases have been identified in Auckland and Wellington regions. While anyone can get MPX, overseas it has mostly impacted the MSM (men who have sex with men) community and people who have sex or other intimate skin to skin contact with MSM. The general risk of contracting MPX in New Zealand remains low.
MPX is a notifiable disease in New Zealand, meaning public health need to be informed by a health professional if someone is suspected or confirmed as having the virus.
If you think you may have been exposed to MPX or if you develop symptoms, especially a rash, you should stay home, self-isolate, and seek medical advice. You can contact your nearest sexual health clinic, your GP, or Healthline on 0800 611 116 (interpreter services are available).
MPX symptoms can include a rash or other skin changes such as lesions - lumps or bumps that can turn into pimples, blisters or sores. Some people also develop cold and flu symptoms, including a fever or swollen glands.
If you develop symptoms stay home, self-isolate, and seek advice. Many illnesses can cause similar symptoms so it may not be MPX, but it’s important to get help.
Contact a sexual health clinic for free advice, call your GP, or ring Healthline for free anytime on 0800 611 116.
Who is at risk?
While anyone can get MPX, the current outbreak has disproportionately impacted:
- men who have sex with men (MSM)
- people who have sex with MSM. This may include people of any gender or sexual identity, whether they are transgender or cisgender, and non-binary people.
There is higher risk for these communities, especially amongst anyone who may have multiple or anonymous sexual partners and they are advised to be mindful of MPX symptoms and see their primary care provider or sexual health if they develop symptoms.
How MPX spreads
MPX can be passed on by:
- Close physical, intimate or sexual contact with someone who has MPX, via skin-to-skin contact
- Direct contact with the skin rashes, lesions, scabs or bodily fluids of someone with MPX
- Touching clothing, bedding or towels used by someone with a MPX rash
While rare, MPX can also be passed on through breathing in droplets exhaled by someone who has the virus. As this requires prolonged contact and for people to be very close together the risk of the virus spreading in this way is very low.
People are normally infectious and can pass on the virus from when they first develop symptoms, up until their lesions or scabs crust, dry and fall off. This will normally span around two to four weeks.
In countries where MPX is endemic (e.g. Western Africa) animals can carry the virus and pass it on to humans through contact. When travelling to a country where MPX is endemic it’s important to avoid contact with animals especially any that are sick or have been found dead.
Tests for MPX can be carried out at a medical practice or a sexual health clinic. Currently the appointment and MPX testing is FREE. Make sure you call ahead so the provider can prepare for your arrival.
The test for MPX involves swabs of any lesions on your skin and/or a throat swab and sometimes a blood test. The tests need to be carried out by a health professional.
It normally takes around 48 hours to get a result from the test. If the test shows you have MPX, a public health professional will be in touch to provide further advice.
While you’re waiting for your result it’s important to stay home, self-isolate, and avoid close contact with other people, including those you live with.
For more information:
MPX factsheet – Te Whatu Ora