Since May 2022, cases of human mpox have been reported in multiple countries that have not previously had MPXV in animal or human populations, including the UK. The outbreak has mainly been in gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men without documented history of travel to endemic countries.
Suspected mpox samples that are positive using a mpox polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test are classified as confirmed cases. Samples which are positive using an orthopox PCR test are classified as highly probable cases. Orthopox is the group of viruses which includes mpox. The counts below combine both of these categories.
Up to 31 December 2022 there were 3,732 confirmed and highly probable mpox cases reported in the UK. Of these, 3,553 were in England, 34 were in Northern Ireland, 97 were in Scotland and 48 were in Wales.
In 2023 (up to 31 October 2023) there have been a total of 88 cases of mpox reported in the UK. Of these, 83 were in England (41 cases were presumed to have acquired mpox in the UK, 34 were acquired outside the UK and 8 are awaiting classification), 2 were in Scotland (one was an imported case acquired outside the UK, the other was presumed to have acquired mpox in the UK), one was in Wales (an imported case acquired outside the UK), and 2 were in Northern Ireland (one was presumed to have acquired mpox in the UK and the other is awaiting classification).
Mpox does not spread easily between people unless there is very close contact.
Spread of mpox may occur when a person comes into close contact with an infected animal (rodents are believed to be the primary animal reservoir for transmission to humans), human, or materials contaminated with the virus. Mpox has not been detected in animals in the UK.
The virus is transmitted through skin-to-skin contact, breathing in virus through the respiratory tract, or contact with mucous membranes (eyes, nose, mouth, genitals).
The incubation period is the duration/time between contact with the person with mpox and the time that the first symptoms appear. The incubation period for mpox is between 5 and 21 days.
Mpox (monkeypox) outbreak: epidemiological overview. UK Health Security Agency, 3 Nov 2023.
Mpox (monkeypox): background information. UK Health Security Agency, 6 Jul 2023
Mpox (monkeypox) vaccination recommendations. UK Health Security Agency, 26 Aug 2023