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Mpox (monkeypox)

Mpox – also known as monkeypox until late 2022 – is an infectious virus that can affect humans and some animals (but not monkeys) and is closely related to smallpox. There was a worldwide outbreak in 2022, during which the disease was primarily transmitted through sexual contact. In the 2022 outbreak there were over 500 cases in Switzerland; since autumn 2022, only sporadic cases have been reported. However, mpox has become established as a sexually transmitted infection among men who have sex with men (MSM) in Europe and in Switzerland.

  1. Transmission routes
  2. Protection
  3. Symptoms
  4. Testing
  5. Treatment
  6. If you are diagnosed with mpox: let your sexual partners know
  7. Information for those who are pregnant

Transmission routes

Mpox can be spread between people through contact with infectious blisters, pustules or scabs on the skin, in the mouth, or on the genitals. This may be through touching, close contact or sex. The fluid in blisters is particularly infectious, as are the scabs.


There is an mpox vaccine. The FOPH recommends that people at increased risk of infection get vaccinated. This includes men and trans people who have sex with men and who (frequently) have multiple partners, and anyone who has sexual or other close physical contact with someone who has mpox. The costs of vaccination are covered by the health insurance for people at increased risk of infection.


Typical symptoms are a rash that starts as flat spots, before turning into pus-filled blisters and then scabbing over. People typically also have a high temperature and swollen lymph nodes. The severity of symptoms varies from one person to another. In some cases, people may only have very mild, isolated symptoms. The symptoms include the following:

  • Skin changes (lesions) with painful pustules and blisters,
  • Mainly on the genitals, in the anal area, and in the mouth
  • Flu-like symptoms (high temperature, chills, headache, muscle and back ache, sore throat etc.)

The disease always heals on its own after a few weeks. Long-term effects of an infection are scarring where the blisters or scabs were. People with weakened immune systems and infants, children and pregnant women have an increased risk of severe disease. In Switzerland this mainly concerns people who are living with HIV and are not vaccinated against mpox.


If you have symptoms and suspect you may have mpox, it’s important you consult a medical professional as soon as possible. They will decide whether you need a test.


In most cases, no special treatment is needed. If the symptoms are mild to moderate, they can be treated with painkillers and ointments. If the symptoms are severe, antiviral therapy may be given. People with mpox should refrain from sexual and other close physical contact until the skin lesions have healed (the scabs have fallen off).

If you are diagnosed with mpox: let your sexual partners know

Talking about sexually transmitted infections (STIs) isn’t always easy. But it’s important that your sexual partners know about your infection so they can seek medical advice and get vaccinated. Here you’ll find information on what to do if you are diagnosed with mpox.

Information for those who are pregnant

There is only limited information about the effects of an mpox infection on pregnant women. The World Health Organization WHO has reported that transmission of mpox can occur both via the placenta and via close contact during or after birth. The risk of mpox infection for the general population and for those who are pregnant in Switzerland is low.

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