Mpox (monkeypox): How it spreads, prevention and risks

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How mpox (monkeypox) spreads

Current evidence suggests that mpox (monkeypox) spreads in 3 ways:

Health authorities across Canada and internationally are monitoring this situation as it evolves. We're still collecting information about how the virus spreads at this time, including looking into:


Mpox can spread from person-to-person through contact with lesions or scabs of a person with mpox. These lesions or scabs may be found on the skin or mucosal surfaces, such as:

It can also spread through contact with bodily fluids of a person with mpox, such as:

You can be exposed to mpox in different situations, such as:

The virus may spread through respiratory particles, such as from:

However, based on the current evidence, the role respiratory particles play in transmission is unknown. We're working with international partners to improve our understanding of the ways the virus could be transmitted.

Emerging evidence suggests that some people with mpox may be contagious 1 to 4 days before their symptoms begin. This is known as pre-symptomatic transmission. At this time, it's not yet known how frequently people with mpox spread the virus before their symptoms begin.

If you're pregnant, there's a chance you could pass on the virus to your fetus through the placenta.

Mpox (monkeypox): Symptoms, getting tested, what to do if you have monkeypox or were exposed

Contaminated objects

You can also get mpox by coming into direct contact with personal items a person with mpox uses, including:

Learn more about:

Animal to human

Animals don't currently play a role in the spread of mpox in Canada.

However, transmission to people from wild rodents and monkeys has been reported in West and Central Africa.

There was also an mpox outbreak in the US in 2003 after infected small mammals from Africa were imported there for the pet trade. They infected pet prairie dogs that they were housed with, which led to an outbreak of 47 human cases.

Activities that may have spread the virus from infected animals to people in these situations include:

Mpox (monkeypox) and animals

Risk of getting mpox (monkeypox)

Anyone can get and spread mpox if they come into close contact with someone who has the virus, regardless of:

Since May 2022, there have been cases in several countries where the disease is not normally found, including Canada.

Person-to-person transmission is currently happening in Canada. Most cases in Canada so far are in people with multiple sexual partners, particularly men who have reported sexual contact with other men. This is in line with international trends. However, it's important to stress that the risk of exposure to the monkeypox virus is not exclusive to any group or setting.

Having multiple sexual partners may increase your overall risk of infection.

Provincial, territorial and local health authorities continue to monitor for and investigate cases of mpox in Canada as the situation evolves. We update this information as it becomes available.

Preventing the spread of mpox (monkeypox)

You can help lower your risk of getting or spreading the monkeypox virus by:

To lower your overall risk of getting and spreading the monkeypox virus, we recommend:

Learn more about:

Community settings

If you operate a non-health care community setting that the public can access, you should:

How operators can reduce the risk of spread of mpox (monkeypox) in community settings

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