An outbreak of a disease called monkeypox is currently taking place in many countries that do not typically have cases. Infections have been linked to sex between men and have occurred especially in people who have many sexual partners. However, monkeypox is not a new disease. Human monkeypox was first identified in 1970, commonly found in Central and West Africa.
Several monkeypox cases have been identified through European sexual health clinics in communities of gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men. According to European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) by the beginning of August a total number of 15,000 monkeypox infections have been diagnosed worldwide. Spain, Germany and the UK have had the highest number of cases. Here you can find updated info about the number of monkeypox cases around Europe.
What kind of disease is monkeypox?
Monkeypox does not spread from one person to another very easily. It requires close physical contact. Monkeypox can spread through close skin-to-skin contact during sex, including kissing, touching, oral and penetrative sex with someone who has symptoms.
Condoms may not prevent monkeypox. Clothing, bedding and towels that have been contaminated with the virus can also infect others.
What kind of symptoms does monkeypox have?
Symptoms of monkeypox typically include a fever, intense headache, muscle aches, back pain, low energy, swollen lymph nodes and a skin rash or lesions.
The symptoms of monkeypox can be very diverse, and it can easily be confused with STIs.
Monkeypox can have very mild symptoms. You should pay attention to skin changes, especially if you have recently had new sexual partners.
The typical incubation period is 6–13 days, but it can be up to 21 days. Symptoms typically last between 2 to 4 weeks and go away on their own without treatment.
Monkeypox cases in Finland
According to the Finnish institute of health and welfare a total of 23 cases have been confirmed by 10th of August 2022. All infections have been found in men.
The Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa HUS has informed that in July in Finland, few monkeypox infections have also been reported in people who have caught the infection in Finland.
What should you do if you think you may have monkeypox?
If you identify a new rash anywhere on your body, seek medical advice by calling your healthcare provider. If you live in Helsinki University Hopital area (HUS), you can contact the Venerel diseasen outpatient clinic. If monkeypox is transmitted during sex, the rash may first appear around the genitals or the anus. Avoid having close contact with anyone until the rash has completely gone.
- If possible, self-isolate and avoid close contact with others, unless advised otherwise by your healthcare provider.
- Ask your close contacts and sexual partners if they have also had similar symptoms.
- If you notice a new rash on your partner’s body, including around the genitals and anus, talk with them and advise that they visit an STI clinic or consult a healthcare provider.
What should you do if you test postive for monkeypox?
If your healthcare provider confirms you have monkeypox, follow their advice. Depending on the national recommendations, advice may include the following:
- Self-isolate if you can, and in particular you should avoid contact with pregnant women, young children, or immunocompromised individuals. You are contagious until the last scab has fallen off.
- Take a break from sex.
- Communicate the list of events you have attended in the last 21 days to the health authorities so they can alert other community members who may have been infected.
- Share the details of close and sexual contacts with health authorities or get in touch with contacts directly so they can be informed and can protect themselves and others.
- Because of current uncertainties about transmission, as a precaution wear a condom for 12 weeks even after you have fully recovered.
Monkeypox vaccinations in Finland
Finland will receive monkeypox vaccinations through a joint procurement by the EU for the prevention of monkeypox during August 2022. This vaccine is called Jynneos, which is used to prevent monkeypox both in US and EU. The vaccine provides protection against diseases caused by orthopox viruses, such as smallpox and monkeypoc. Vaccines can be offered to individuals who are estimated to be most at risk of getting monkeypox. It’s being investigated how the vaccinations will launched and targeted. For more information visit the webpage of Finnish institute of health and welfare.
Facts about monkeypox
- Monkeypox does not spread from one person to another very easily. It requires close physical contact.
- Monkeypox can spread through close skin-to-skin contact during sex, including kissing, touching, oral and penetrative sex with someone who has symptoms.
- Condoms may not prevent monkeypox. Clothing, bedding and towels that have been contaminated with the virus can also infect others.
- Symptoms of monkeypox typically include a fever, intense headache, muscle aches, back pain, low energy, swollen lymph nodes and a skin rash or lesions.
- The symptoms of monkeypox can be very diverse, and it can easily be confused with STIs.
- Monkeypox can have very mild symptoms. You should pay attention to skin changes, especially if you have recently had new sexual partners.
- The typical incubation period is 6–13 days, but it can be up to 21 days. Symptoms typically last between 2 to 4 weeks and go away on their own without treatment.
- If you think you may have monkeypox, contact your healthcare center. Report the matter first by phone, for example to the emergency department of your hospital district area.
- In the HUS area, you should contact the STI outpatient clinic if a rash or blisters appear on any part of your body.
- When symptoms appear, you should avoid physical contact with others.
- The new generation of smallpox vaccine is also effective against monkeypox. In some European countries, vaccination of risk groups and those exposed to monkeypox has already started. The schedule and allocation of vaccinations in Finland will be determined during August 2022.
Who can get infected with monkeypox?
It is important to note that the risk of monkeypox is not limited to men who have sex with men. Anyone who has close contact with someone who is infectious is at risk. However, given that the virus is being identified in these communities, learning about monkeypox will help ensure that as few people as possible are affected and that the outbreak can be stopped.