Clarification: This story has been updated to more clearly reflect the risk of the spread of monkeypox via meat is specific to animals located in West and Central Africa. The headline has been updated to reflect the information has been provided in the form of standard guidance by the NHS rather than a warning. See the government guidance here.

As the UK sees a “significant and concerning”rise of monkeypox in the UK, the NHS has guidance available on its website.

According to the NHS website, monkeypox can be spread by touching clothing, bedding or towels used by an infected person, touching monkeypox blisters or scabs or the coughs and sneezes of a person infected by the disease.

Standard guidance on the NHS website relating to countries where monkeypox is endemic says the infection can also be spread by animals and eating meat although this is mainly liked to animals in west and central Africa. However, it was worth noting that monkypox is not endemic in the UK. 

The website says: “Monkeypox can be caught from infected wild animals in parts of west and central Africa. It's thought to be spread by rodents, such as rats, mice and squirrels.

“You can catch monkeypox from an infected animal if you're bitten or you touch its blood, body fluids, spots, blisters or scabs.

“It may also be possible to catch monkeypox by eating meat from an infected animal that has not been cooked thoroughly, or by touching other products from infected animals (such as animal skin or fur).”

Calls for people to come forward for testing

Dr Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser at the UKHSA, said: “Alongside reports of further cases being identified in other countries globally, we continue to identify additional cases in the UK.

“Thank you to everyone who has come forward for testing already and supported our contact tracing efforts – you are helping us limit the spread of this infection in the UK.

“Because the virus spreads through close contact, we are urging everyone to be aware of any unusual rashes or lesions, and to contact a sexual health service if they have any symptoms.

“A notable proportion of recent cases in the UK and Europe have been found in gay and bisexual men, so we are particularly encouraging these men to be alert to the symptoms.”

Symptoms of monkeypox in humans

A rash usually appears 1 to 5 days after the first symptoms. The rash often begins on the face, then spreads to other parts of the body.

Full list of symptoms:

  • a high temperature
  • a headache
  • muscle aches
  • backache
  • swollen glands
  • shivering (chills)
  • exhaustion

The symptoms usually clear up in 2 to 4 weeks.