Travel Health Service Meningococcal meningitis
Travel related diseases


What is Monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a zoonosis caused by Monkeypox virus. The virus was first discovered in 1958 in monkeys. The first case in humans was reported in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo (then known as Zaire), since then human cases have mainly been reported in West and Central African countries: Benin, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Nigeria, the Republic of the Congo, Sierra Leone and South Sudan.

The incubation period is usually from 6 to 13 days, with a range from 5 to 21 days. The symptoms are similar to Smallpox, but in milder forms. Initial symptoms include fever, intense headache, myalgia and lymphadenopathy. Severe swollen lymph nodes before the appearance of rash could be a distinctive feature. Lesions in mouth and body appear about 1 to 3 days after onset of fever, then progress from maculopapules to vesicles, pustules and followed by crusts within a period of 10 to 14 days. Lesions typically progress simultaneously at all parts of the body.

Monkeypox is usually a self-limited disease with symptoms lasting from 14 to 21 days. The case fatality in previous outbreaks has been between 1% (West African strain) to 10% (Congo strain).

How does it spread?

Animal-to-human transmission can occur via direct contact with the blood, body fluids, or lesions of infected animals including squirrels, Gambian pouched rats, dormice, and different species of monkeys.

Human-to-human transmission is also possible through respiratory droplets during prolonged face-to-face contact or direct contact with skin lesions, body fluids or recently contaminated objects. Transmission can also occur via the placenta from mother to fetus.

How can you prevent it?

To reduce the risk of infection, members of the public travelling to places affected by Monkeypox virus should:

  • Avoid close physical contact with sick persons or animals;
  • Wear protective clothing and equipment including gloves and surgical masks when taking care of ill people or handling animals, and carry out regular hand washing after these procedures;
  • Thoroughly cook all animal products before eating; and
  • Seek medical advice promptly for any suspicious symptoms.

How is it treated?

The disease is usually self-limited, thus treatment is mainly supportive.

Although there is currently no registered specific vaccine to prevent Monkeypox in Hong Kong, antiviral treatment is available for severe cases.

It has been shown that Smallpox vaccine may also be effective in preventing Monkeypox, and a new vaccine called "Jynneos" has been licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the protection of Monkeypox in 2019. Another new antiviral drug was approved for the treatment of Monkeypox in Europe recently.

For more information on Monkeypox, including the latest situation in overseas countries or places, please visit the World Health Organization and Centre for Health Protection’s thematic webpages at: