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

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Mpox (monkeypox) is usually a self-limited viral infection with a rash that may be painful. Most people recover on their own after a few weeks.

In some cases, people can become very sick and could die.

People usually develop symptoms 5 to 21 days after being exposed to the monkeypox virus.

Symptoms typically last from 2 to 4 weeks and may pass through several stages.

The rash can be painful and could affect any part of the body, such as the:

The rash usually lasts between 14 and 28 days and changes through different stages. It finally forms scabs that later fall off. The rash can be accompanied by general symptoms such as:

You are contagious from the onset of first symptoms until the scabs have fallen off on their own and the skin is healed.

If you have symptoms, you should:

Learn more about:

Getting tested

Contact your health care provider to get assessed and tested for infection with monkeypox virus.

You can get tested based on a combination of factors, such as:

Symptoms can appear similar to those of other infectious diseases, such as:

This is why it's important to speak to a health care provider and be tested.

Vaccines and treatment

Treatment for symptomatic mpox mainly includes:

There is limited data on the clinical effectiveness of specific antiviral treatments for mpox in people. These antivirals were first developed to treat smallpox. In some cases, they may also help treat mpox.

Health Canada authorized the Imvamune vaccine for immunization against monkeypox virus and orthopoxvirus infections in adults 18 years of age and older who are at high risk of exposure.

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommends offering the Imvamune vaccine as a 2 -dose primary series to people with highest risk of mpox. The committee also recommends offering the vaccine to people:

You should be vaccinated as soon as possible after a high-risk exposure.

Provinces and territories base their immunization programs on their needs and circumstances. Contact your local public health authority to learn more:

If you have mpox (monkeypox)

If you have mpox, your local public health authority may require you to isolate to prevent further spread. They may recommend that you isolate at home or at a different location, depending on your living situation. We'll use "home" to refer to your isolation location on this page.

Follow your local public health authority's advice on isolation, including the length of time they recommend. While isolating, follow measures to lower the risk of spreading the virus to others in your household.

Federal, provincial, territorial and local isolation requirements and recommendations may vary as the situation in Canada evolves.

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When isolating in your home

Stay at home and follow instructions on isolation

Follow the advice of your local public health authority.

Stay in isolation until they tell you that you no longer have to isolate.

This usually occurs once:

  • your scabs have fallen off on their own, and
  • your skin is healing and has a light pink or shiny pearl appearance

Do not leave your home unless you need urgent medical care. Tell your health care provider about your infection before an in-person appointment, when possible.

Have necessities, such as medication or groceries, delivered to your home as much as possible.

Avoid contact with people

Avoid directly touching other people, including through sexual contact.

Where possible, avoid contact with people who are at risk of more severe disease, such as:

  • young children
  • people who are pregnant
  • people who are immunocompromised

Limit contact with others from outside the home. This includes not having visitors inside the home, except your health care provider (if needed).

If you live with others, isolate in a separate space. For example, use a private room for sleeping and use a separate washroom whenever possible, especially if you have:

  • weeping lesions
  • lesions that are hard to cover, such as on the face
  • respiratory symptoms, particularly if you have lesions inside your mouth or throat

If a private room for sleeping isn't available, separate your bed as far away as possible from others.

If a separate washroom isn't available:

  • do not share used towels with other people
  • immediately remove and wash used towels
  • clean and disinfect all surfaces and objects that you touched

Avoid areas that you share with others in the household.

If you must use shared areas:

  • wear a well-fitting medical mask
  • cover your lesions well with clothing or bandages
  • clean and disinfect surfaces and objects after use

Learn more about:

Avoid contact with animals

Avoid all contact with pets and livestock when possible. Have someone in your household care for these animals until you are no longer contagious. If this isn't possible, then when caring for your animals you should always:

  • cover all your lesions with clothes or bandages
  • wear a well-fitting medical mask and gloves when near the animal
  • frequently clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces and objects

Avoid all contact with wildlife around your home. This will help limit the potential risk of introducing the monkeypox virus into animal populations in Canada.

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Avoid sharing items that may be contaminated

Do not share items that may be contaminated with the virus, including:

  • razors
  • clothes
  • utensils
  • needles
  • sex toys
  • toothbrushes
  • linens, towels and bedding

Cover your lesions and wear a mask

Cover all your lesions with clothing or bandages as much as possible.

Wear a well-fitting medical mask when around others, such as in a shared space or when receiving care. When this isn't possible, other household members should wear a well-fitting medical mask when in a shared space with you.

Clean your hands and cover coughs and sneezes

Clean your hands properly and frequently.

You should also:

  1. cough or sneeze into a tissue or the bend of your arm, not your hand, if you're not wearing a mask
  2. throw any tissues you've used into a plastic-lined waste container as soon as possible
  3. clean your hands immediately afterwards

Keep your environment clean

Clean and disinfect all surfaces and objects that you've had contact with.

Handle and wash your own clothes, bedding, towels and other laundry, unless you're unable to do so.

Handle your own used utensils and dishes, unless you're unable to do so.

Learn more about:

Postpone non-urgent appointments

Do not donate body fluids or tissues, including blood and sperm.

Postpone all non-urgent medical visits and procedures.

If you're in close contact with infants

Ask your health care provider for advice if you're in close contact with infants. For example, if you're providing care to an infant or breastfeeding.

Seeking medical care

If you're feeling unwell, contact your health care provider immediately.

If you call an ambulance, tell the dispatcher that you have or may have mpox. Follow any directions they provide.

If you use a private vehicle to get to the hospital, call ahead to let them know that you have or may have mpox.

While travelling in a private vehicle, follow strict individual public health measures to lower the risk of transmission and:

  • cover all lesions with clothing or bandages as much as possible
  • wear a well-fitting medical mask unless experiencing difficulty breathing
    • if you can't wear a mask, all other passengers should wear a well-fitting medical mask
  • minimize the number of passengers in the vehicle

Do not use public transportation to seek medical care unless you have no other choice. If you must use public transportation:

  • cover any lesions
  • wear a well-fitting medical mask
  • maximize your distance from others

Safer sex practices after recovering from mpox

After recovering from mpox, practise safer sex by using barrier protection, such as condoms and dental dams. Use barrier protection during sexual activity, including oral and non-penetrative contact, to lower your partner's potential chances of being exposed to the virus.

At this time, we're taking a precautionary approach by recommending barrier protection. We're still researching the spread of mpox, including possible risks after a person has recovered.

Contact your local public health authority for more information on safer sex practices after recovering from mpox.

Providing care at home to someone with mpox (monkeypox)

Ideally, only one person in the home should care for someone who is in isolation. This will help reduce the risk of spreading the monkeypox virus to others.

The caregiver should not be someone who is considered at risk of more severe disease, including someone who is:

Watch for signs or symptoms of mpox for 21 days since your last exposure to the person you're caring for. If signs or symptoms develop, immediately isolate, contact your local public health authority and follow their instructions.

Lower your risk of getting mpox by avoiding:

You should also:

If you can't avoid close contact with someone you're caring for:

Learn more about:

If you've been exposed

If you know you've been exposed to someone with mpox, contact your local public health authority immediately. Your local public health authority may also tell you that you've been exposed to someone with mpox. They will provide you with instructions on what to do and how to lower the risk of further spread.

Instructions depend on your exposure risk level, which may range from lower to higher risk. For example, if you've had a high-risk exposure, you may be advised to refrain from sexual contact with others.

In some cases, you may be instructed to:

Watch for symptoms for 21 days after you've been exposed. Avoid taking medications that are known to lower fever, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen and acetylsalicylic acid. They may mask an early symptom of mpox.

If you develop symptoms, isolate immediately and contact your local public health authority or health care provider. Tell your health care provider that you've been exposed before an in-person appointment, when possible.

Recommendations on hand and environmental hygiene

Proper hand and environmental hygiene can lower the risk of getting or spreading the monkeypox virus. Do your laundry before you clean and disinfect surfaces and objects to lower the risk of contaminating yourself, others or surfaces and objects.

Hand hygiene

Wash hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water aren't available, use hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol. When hands are visibly soiled, soap and water is the preferred method.

If you have mpox, clean your hands before touching common surfaces and objects.

If you're a caregiver or household member of someone with mpox, clean your hands:

Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands if you're a caregiver or household member.

Disposable gloves

Always clean your hands before and after putting on and taking off gloves.

When wearing gloves, if they become soiled or torn:

  1. remove them
  2. clean your hands
  3. put on a new pair

To remove gloves safely:

  1. pull off the first glove from the fingertips using your opposite gloved hand
  2. as you're pulling, form the glove into a ball within the palm of your gloved hand
  3. slide your ungloved hand in under the wrist of your second glove and
    • gently roll it inside out and away from your body
  4. avoid touching the outside of the gloves with your bare hands
  5. discard the gloves in a plastic-lined waste container then dispose of the bag
  6. clean your hands immediately after removal and disposal of gloves

Watch this video to learn how to properly remove disposable gloves.

Handling laundry

If you have mpox, you should handle your own laundry, such as clothes, towels and bed linens.

Wash your contaminated laundry in a washing machine using hot water (70 °C) with detergent. Your laundry must be dried in a dryer and be completely dry before taking it out.

If you don't have access to a washing machine and dryer, contact your local public health authority. They may help you in getting support to help wash your contaminated items appropriately.

If you're a caregiver who has to wash the laundry of the person who has mpox:

Removing contaminated clothing

If you're a caregiver handling contaminated laundry, bring an extra change of clean clothes in case your clothes get contaminated.

To remove contaminated clothing:

  1. Keep mask and gloves on while removing clothing
  2. Remove the contaminated clothing
    • minimize contact with the outer surface and avoid agitating clothing while doing so
  3. Wash your contaminated laundry in a washing machine using hot water (70 °C) with detergent
    • clean and disinfect contaminated footwear, if worn
  4. If you need to transport your contaminated clothing to another location, put it in a disposable leak-proof bag.
    • After putting the clothing in the laundry, put the bag used to transport it in another disposable garbage bag, close it, and dispose of it.
  5. Remove and dispose of gloves and clean your hands
  6. Remove and dispose of mask and clean your hands
  7. Put on clean clothes

Learn more about:

Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and objects

Frequently clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that the person with mpox may have come into contact with. This is especially important for high-touch surfaces, which may include:

If a surface or object is visibly dirty, clean it with regular cleaning products first then use a disinfectant. Always follow product label directions. If you're using household bleach, follow instructions on how to properly dilute it.

How to properly dilute bleach

We recommend using single-use disposable cleaning products, such as disposable towels. If they aren't available, you can either:

Discard the cleaning products after use if you can't wash or disinfect them.

After you've recovered from mpox, clean and disinfect all the spaces you have accessed in the home thoroughly. This will lower the potential risk of transmission to other household members or visitors.

Learn more about:

Cleaning furniture and carpets

If you're isolating in a home with other household members or roommates, avoid vacuuming your upholstered furniture and carpet floors. This may spread infectious particles to others.

If you're isolating in a home alone, use a vacuum with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. Do not vacuum furniture or carpet with a vacuum cleaner without a HEPA filter as this may also spread infectious particles.

If your upholstered furniture and carpets are visibly dirty, use commercial cleaning products. Consult your local public health authority for advice if furniture is very dirty.

Cleaning dishes and utensils

If you have mpox, do not share your dishes and other eating utensils.

You should also handle and wash your own used dishes and utensils.

You don't need to use separate utensils if properly washed, which you can do by:

If you can't clean your own dishes and utensils, your caregiver should make sure they are properly washed.

Waste management

Examples of contaminated waste from the person with mpox or their caregiver include:

  • masks
  • gloves
  • tissues
  • bandages

When disposing of contaminated waste, ensure that materials can't be accessed by other people, pets or wild animals, especially rodents. You can do this by:

  • keeping contaminated waste separate from other household waste
  • placing contaminated waste in a high-quality, leak-proof garbage bag
  • securely tying the garbage bag and double bagging it
  • putting the bag in an animal-proof garbage bin for municipal pick-up

Wash your hands with soap and water, or if not available, use hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol, immediately after handling contaminated waste.


Supplies you'll need when someone is isolating at home include:

Recommended hygiene products include:

Read and follow manufacturer's instructions for safe use of cleaning and disinfection products.

Reach out to family, friends or neighbours if you can't get these supplies. You can also contact your local public health authority or a community organization for advice, support and resources.

If you're isolating or providing care, do so at a place that has access to running water whenever possible. This will make it easier to practise hand washing, cleaning and disinfecting, and laundering.

Learn more about:

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