Monkeypox Virus – How to Stay Safe When Travelling
A previously almost unheard-of virus, in the last few months more and more cases of monkeypox have been occurring across the globe. Officials have warned that a summer of tourism and events could result in cases rising even more, with people urged to be careful and take precautions when they travel to reduce the spread.
You should always ensure you have comprehensive international travel insurance so you’re covered in the event of any illness. Our below guide will help you to be informed and stay protected from monkeypox whilst you travel.
What are the symptoms of monkeypox?
The symptoms of monkeypox will usually start between 5 to 21 days after becoming infected. The first symptoms of monkeypox include:
- high temperature and fever
- other flu-like symptoms such as muscle aches, shivering and fatigue
- swollen glands in the neck, armpits, or groin
Around 1 to 5 days after the above symptoms occur, a blistering rash will start. It could occur on the face or genital area, and it may spread to other parts of the body. The rash will begin as raised spots which develop into blisters and then scabs.
How does monkeypox spread?
Monkeypox infections in humans result from touching or eating animals that are infected with the virus, mainly through rodents and monkeys. The virus can then be spread from person to person via:
- direct contact with bodily fluids
- touching the skin rash
- touching the clothes, bedding, or other personal items that have touched bodily fluids or sores
The recent rise of cases has mainly been reported in the gay, bisexual and men who have sex with men community, but the virus is not limited to this group alone. Many recent cases are thought to have been transmitted through close, personal contact with infected people, including during sex.
Which countries have reported cases of monkeypox?
As of 22 June 2022, data from WHO shows that there have been 3,413 reported cases of monkeypox across the world since 1January 2022.
Europe accounts for 85% of all global cases. The majority of cases so far have been in the UK (793), Germany (521), Spain (520), Portugal (317), France (277), Canada (210), Netherlands (167), and the USA (142).
How to reduce the risk of catching monkeypox
Prior to this year’s outbreak, cases of monkeypox occurred mainly in remote parts of Central and West Africa, and infections outside this area were rare. As such, people who are travelling to these areas should avoid contact with rodents (such as mice, rats and squirrels) and monkeys. You should avoid eating undercooked meat sourced from these animals and always wear protective clothing, including gloves, if you will be involved in the care or slaughter of these animals. A bite or scratch from an infected animal could result in infection.
If you are travelling to any destination, particularly those with high cases of monkeypox, and you will be sexually active, you should be aware of the risk of the virus. You should avoid close contact, including sex, with anyone who is unwell and showing monkeypox symptoms such as a rash. You should also always practice safe sex. Maintaining good hand hygiene by regularly washing hands can also help to reduce the risk of infection.
What to do if you catch monkeypox when travelling
If you develop monkeypox symptoms, you should seek medical advice. Most international travel insurance policies will cover the treatment needed for monkeypox, but you should read your specific policy carefully and speak to your provider. You should isolate and avoid close contact with others so as to not further spread the infection.
If you have recently travelled to Central or West Africa and you have developed flu-like symptoms, you should make sure to seek advice and testing for malaria, as well as monkeypox.
There is no specific treatment for monkeypox, and symptoms will usually clear up by themselves over a few weeks. Medicine can be taken to help alleviate the symptoms and help with aches and pains and discomfort caused by the rash.
Make sure you’re covered when you go travelling with international travel insurance from Expatriate Group. We’ll tailor your cover to suit your needs, with emergency and accidental medical treatment and evacuation provided as standard, plus a range of extra benefits available for added protection. Get a quote today.