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You may have heard about Monkeypox in the news recently. But what is it, what are the symptoms and how can you access help and information?

Monkeypox is a rare illness caused by the Monkeypox virus and one of the symptoms is a rash that is sometimes confused with chickenpox. It is usually associated with travel to Central or West Africa, but cases have been occurring in England with no travel links.

Monkeypox can be spread when someone comes into close contact with an infected person. The virus can enter the body through broken skin, the respiratory tract or through the eyes, nose, or mouth.

Anyone can get Monkeypox. Though currently a large proportion of cases detected have been in gay, bisexual and men who have sex with men. It’s important if you are within one of these groups to be alert to any unusual rashes or lesions and to contact a sexual health service without delay.

The first symptoms of Monkeypox include:

  • fever
  • headache,
  • muscle aches
  • backache
  • swollen lymph nodes
  • chills
  • exhaustion

The rash usually appears 1-5 days after the first symptoms. The rash often begins on the face, then spreads to other parts of the body. This can be the genitals and anus. The rash is sometimes mistaken for chicken pox as it starts with raised spots which later blister, then scab and eventually fall off.

The symptoms usually clear up within a few weeks. While you have symptoms, you can pass Monkeypox to others

The virus can spread if there is close contact between people through:

  • touching clothing, bedding or towels used by someone with the Monkeypox rash
  • touching Monkeypox skin blisters or scabs
  • the coughs or sneezes of a person with the Monkeypox rash

Please contact a sexual health clinic if you have a rash with blisters and either of the below apply to you:

  • Been in close contact, including sexual contact, with someone who has or might have Monkeypox (even if they’ve not been tested yet) in the past 3 weeks
  • Been to west or central Africa in the past 3 weeks

Please stay at home and avoid close contact with other people until you have been advised what to do.

Our services are open Monday to Friday between 9am – 5pm and we encourage you to call us on the telephone numbers below if you have any queries, worries or symptoms.

  • 0300 330 1122 for Teesside and Northern Lincolnshire
  • 0300 303 8565 for Oldham, Bury and Rochdale
  • 0300 247 0020 for Cheshire West and Chester

For more information, please visit or contact visit Monkeypox – NHS (

Vaccination to protect against Monkeypox

The Monkeypox virus is caused by a virus which is similar to the Smallpox virus. The Smallpox vaccine should provide a good level of protection against the Monkeypox virus. The NHS is offering vaccine to those people most at risk of being exposed to the Monkeypox virus.

This includes

  • Some health care workers
  • Some men who are gay, bisexual or have sex with other men
  • People who have been in contact with the Monkeypox virus

Eligible people will be offered one dose to reduce the severity of the virus and to prevent future infections. In some cases, a second dose may be offered.

If you are at risk of exposure, your local NHS sexual health service will contact you to and offer you a vaccine.

Improving access to Sexual health facilities across Oldham, Bury and Rochdale

More community sexual health facilities are to be provided for people in Oldham, Bury and Rochdale.

As part of a new outreach model being delivered by HCRG Care Group – the team will offer more outreach services from our existing sites.

We are working closely with our partners to provide greater access to sexual health support for vulnerable people and young people who are hard to reach within the community.

Sarah Lunt, Head of Sexual Health & Dermatology, at HCRG Care Group, said: “This is brilliant news for people in Oldham, Bury and Rochdale. At HCRG Care Group, we are proud to change people’s lives by transforming health and care and this expansion of services will allow us to reach more patients in the heart of their community.”

This work is part of an ongoing transformation programme being delivered by HCRG Care Group alongside our partners, which has been recommissioned by the three local authorities to deliver sexual health services until April 2027.

Sexual health outreach services include “Clinic in a Box”, which was launched during lockdown and will continue to give people access to contraception and sexual health information at convenient locations throughout Greater Manchester.

The expansion of services follows the announcement in December 2021 that sexual health services in Bury, Oldham and Rochdale had been rated as ‘Outstanding’ when it comes to caring for patients and ‘Good’ in safety, effectiveness, responsiveness and being well-led by the Care Quality Commission.

Sexual health services are run by HCRG Care Group on behalf of the local authorities in each area.

The service runs the Sexual Health Hub where local people can order testing kits for chlamydia, gonorrhoea, HIV and syphilis. Also available online are condoms, emergency hormonal contraceptive pill and pregnancy tests.

Cheshire Pride

We are long-term supporters and sponsors of Chester Pride – one of the UK’s largest free to attend LGBT+ Pride events.

In August, we also supported Chester Pride Digital and took part in Pride TV, a livestream Q&A hosted by Lady Wanda Why.

The Q&A featured Justine Purnell, Specialist Practitioner and Dr Hardeep Kang, who both work in the Integrated Sexual Health Service covering Chester West and Chester. They answered questions from the public and shared their expertise on several topics from testing for sexual transmitted diseases to sex and sexual health.

Our Sexual Health team also used the event to promote The Box Project, which is a charitable project we run in partnership with Chester Pride. The boxes have free condoms, sanitary products and help and advice on a wide range of issues. Launched last year, the boxes can be found at bars, pubs, clubs, and other public areas in the city. They encourage people to take the relevant pack for moments when caught short, in immediate need or due to lack of funds.

For more information, please contact 0300 247 0020

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