Monkeypox is a virus that causes fever, headache, swollen lymph nodes, and tiredness, usually followed by a rash and blisters on the skin. It is usually spread by very close contact with someone who has the virus. Anyone can get monkeypox. However, during this outbreak, gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men have been impacted the most.


Symptoms & Diagnosis

Symptoms usually start within 6 to 13 days after being exposed to monkeypox, but can also start anywhere from 5 to 21 days after exposure. Symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Headache Muscle aches
  • Backache
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Chills
  • Feeling extremely tired
  • Cough or sore throat (sometimes)
  • Runny nose
  • Rash with blisters that can appear 1 to 3 days after fever, but in some cases, can appear before fever or other symptoms. The rash usually begins as flat red spots (that can look like pimples or heat rash), which turn into blisters and then form a crust. In some cases, the rash appears around the mouth, genital, or anorectal (bum) areas.

Monkeypox is diagnosed by a healthcare provider, based on symptoms and a laboratory test.

Monkeypox symptoms infographic

Monkeypox symptoms infographic


Monkeypox symptoms infographic

Monkeypox symptoms infographic



Monkeypox typically spreads from a person with the virus to others through:

  • Prolonged close contact with respiratory droplets from breathing, talking, coughing, or sneezing
  • Skin-to-skin contact with lesions, blisters, rashes
  • Contact with objects, fabrics, and surfaces used by someone who has the virus.

The virus enters the body through breaks in the skin or through the eyes and mouth. Someone with Monkeypox can usually pass on the virus when they develop a skin rash or blisters, but it may also spread when they have early symptoms including fever and headache. At this time, Monkeypox has mostly spread among people who had close intimate/sexual contact with a person who has the virus.

It does not spread as easily or quickly as COVID-19 and does not spread through casual contact.



  • Consider limiting the number of people you have close skin-to-skin contact with.
  • Avoid touching blisters or rashes on another person.
  • Talk to sexual partners about sexual health and use barriers such as gloves and condoms.
  • Avoid sharing objects that come into contact with another person’s skin or body fluids such as toothbrushes, sex toys, and drug use supplies.
  • Avoid prolonged close face-to-face contact with others, especially indoors.
  • Wear a mask in indoor public spaces, when possible.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently-touched surfaces (such as door handles, countertops, and phones) and fabrics (such as clothing and bedding). Standard household cleaners/ disinfectants can be used to kill the virus on surfaces.
  • Avoid touching bedding and laundry that has been in contact with someone who has monkeypox.
  • Use personal protective equipment (PPE) when caring for someone who has the virus, including a gown, gloves, mask, and eye protection.
  • Stay home if you are sick, and encourage others to do the same.
  • Clean your hands with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Get vaccinated, if eligible.

Monkeypox prevention infographic



A vaccine (Imvamune) is approved in Canada for protection against monkeypox. The vaccine can be used for protection against monkeypox before getting exposed to the virus (pre-exposure prophylaxis) or after being exposed (post-exposure prophylaxis) for eligible groups. The vaccine contains a modified virus and cannot make you sick.

Vaccine eligibility

At this time, one dose of the monkeypox vaccine (Imvamune®) can be given to eligible persons as per the Ontario Ministry of Health guidelines. A single dose is expected to provide reasonable protection by 2-4 weeks following vaccination.

Imvamune® can be used to protect individuals before an exposure to the monkeypox virus (this is called Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis or PrEP) or to protect individuals after being exposed to the monkeypox virus (this is called Post-Exposure Prophylaxis or PEP).

Imvamune® vaccine eligibility for protection before an exposure to the monkeypox virus (PrEP)

Based on the Ontario Ministry of Health guidelines, trans- or cis-gender individuals who self-identify as belonging to the gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (gbMSM) community are eligible for pre-exposure prophylaxis if they meet one of the following criteria:

  • Have had two or more sexual partners within the past 21 days or may be planning to.
  • Have had anonymous/casual sex in the past 21 days or may be planning to.
  • Have received a diagnosis of bacterial sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the past two months. Examples of bacterial STIs are chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis.
  • Have attended venues for sexual contact within the past 21 days, or may be planning to, or who work/volunteer in these settings. Examples of these settings include bath houses or sex clubs.
  • Engage in sex for work or may be planning to. Sexual contacts of these individuals are also eligible to receive the monkeypox vaccine.

Imvamune® vaccine eligibility after being exposed to the monkeypox virus (PEP)

Based on the Ontario Ministry of Health guidelines, individuals who have been identified by their local public health unit as having a high or intermediate-risk exposure with someone who has the monkeypox virus are eligible to receive Imvamune®. These individuals will be contacted directly by their local public health unit.


If you think you have Monkeypox

Isolate right away and contact a health care provider. Avoid contact with animals, including household pets.

People who have been in contact with a person who has monkeypox should monitor themselves for symptoms for 21 days. If no symptoms appear you can continue with normal activities. If symptoms develop, you should isolate and contact a healthcare provider.

The Grey Bruce Health Unit will contact and give guidance to people who test positive for monkeypox as well as known close contacts of the individual who tests positive. Most people recover from monkeypox on their own within 2 to 4 weeks and do not need any specific treatment. However, some people can get seriously sick. Contact a health care provider if you have any concerns about your symptoms.



Share this page