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What happens if you test positive for mpox
Staying at home and self-isolating
If a test shows you have mpox you’ll need to stay home and self-isolate for a minimum of seven days from onset of the first lesion (lumps or bumps that can turn into pimples, blisters or sores).
This is to help reduce the risk of you passing on the virus to others and to see how your symptoms develop during that time.
From day eight onwards, health staff will then assess you to see whether you need to isolate for longer, or if you can leave isolation with precautions in place to prevent spreading the virus to others.
This is because mpox is mostly spread through direct skin-to-skin contact, and if your lesions are able to be covered and you are otherwise well, the chances of you giving mpox to someone else are very low.
Every person with mpox will need to be assessed on an individual basis for these reasons and health staff will guide you on what is safe for you to do.
Self-isolating means staying away from work, not having visitors in your home, and avoiding close contact with other people you live with where possible.
This includes avoiding high-risk activities, including sexual activity, kissing and other skin-to-skin contact with others.
While you are isolating, health staff will be in contact regularly to check on your health.
They will also provide advice on what to expect with your symptoms, answer any other questions you may have and they may be able to provide you with masks.
General household detergent and disinfection products are adequate for cleaning.
You’ll be asked to provide information on where you’ve been recently and who you’ve been in close contact with, to check if you may have passed on the virus to others.
This will include people you have had intimate contacts with.
After seven days since your first lesion appeared, health staff will work with you to decide when you can leave isolation or whether you may be able to return to some of your normal activities but with extra precautions in place until all scabs or lesions have fallen off and new skin has formed where these were.
You will need to continue to avoid close intimate contact and sexual activities until all lesions have healed.
This normally happens around two-to-four weeks after your symptoms start.
You will continue to receive regular contact from health staff and you will need to have a final check-up with a health professional before you are released from management by the Public Health Service.
There is detailed guidance to prevent passing mpox onto others if you are isolating at home, or in accommodation. See information about avoiding contact with animals.
Help and support for people self-isolating
If you are required to isolate a health professional will update you on the support available when they inform you that you have mpox.
People experiencing hardship can also apply for financial support from the Ministry of Social Development. To check if you are eligible, visit the MSD website or call 0800 559 009 (Mon-Fri 7am–6pm; Sat 8am-1pm).
If you need mental health advice or support while isolating, free call or text 1737 anytime. There are also a range of dedicated LGBTQI support services available.
Mpox skin lesions (lumps or bumps that can turn into pimples, blisters or sores) can sometimes become very itchy and may cause severe pain.
You can take paracetamol to help treat your symptoms (especially if you have a fever) and manage any pain.
If the lesions are very itchy you can take an antihistamine such as cetirizine, which can be collected for you by family or friends, otherwise a home delivery service is available too. Your doctor can also prescribe stronger pain relief if it is required.
People with mpox are advised to keep any lesions clean – especially those in sensitive areas – to reduce the chance of infection.
You can do this by washing your skin with a soap bar and warm water.
If a lesion or area becomes infected it may suddenly become red and tender, and potentially shiny, swollen and hot. You may feel very unwell if this happens.
Occasionally, people with mpox can become very sick.
If you are feeling very unwell, have severe shortness of breath or severe pain, please call an ambulance on 111 and let them know that you have mpox. Please wear a mask when the ambulance arrives.
You’ll also be asked to provide information on where you’ve been recently and who you’ve been in close contact with, to check whether you may have passed the virus on to others.
Your right to privacy will be respected. See more on privacy below.
Mpox is a private health matter.
If you catch mpox your private details will be kept confidential. You will not be required to tell anyone you have mpox, besides a health professional.
Health staff may need to notify the people you’ve had close contact with or the people you live with that they are at risk of developing mpox.
Your employer may also need to be notified if there was a risk of you passing on the virus to others while at work, although they will be required to keep any details private.
You can also request a medical note stating you have a notifiable illness and need to stay home.
Your details won’t be shared with anyone without this being discussed with you first.
If health staff cannot directly reach the people you’ve had close or sexual contact with, they may need to publicise some information about at-risk locations.
This won’t involve sharing any identifiable information and will only happen when absolutely necessary to alert others to the risk of getting mpox. It will also always be discussed with you first.
What to do if you are a close contact of someone with mpox
If you are identified as a close contact of a person with mpox, you will be contacted by a health professional and asked to monitor your symptoms for 21 days from when you last had close contact with the case.
Isolation is not required.
Health staff will provide you with guidance on how to identify symptoms and other requirements.
Depending on the extent of your contact with the case, you may be asked to share regular updates on your symptoms with health staff.
If you develop any symptoms you will be required to self-isolate and seek further medical advice.
If you are assessed as having a high risk of developing mpox, you will also be advised to:
- wear a mask when around others
- let health staff know leaving the country within the 21 days
- avoid high-risk activities, including sexual activity, kissing and other skin-to-skin contact with others.
If you have been exposed to mpox and have not heard from a health professional, call Healthline for free on 0800 611 116, or contact your GP or nearest sexual health clinic.
You may be at risk of getting the virus and may need to get tested if you have symptoms.
About MpoxInformation about the mpox virus
Mpox – Burnett Foundation Aotearoa (goes to another website)