Monkeypox transmission

german version / auf deutsch

In principle, monkeypox virus (MPXV) is relatively difficult to transmit. You have to have direct contact with the pathogen to become infected. We have compiled a list of things to watch out for here.

What you need to know about monkeypox and transmission

  • Monkeypox is difficult to transmit.
  • Avoid close physical contact with infected persons.
  • Infection with monkeypox during sex is possible.
  • Monkeypox can be transmitted to the child during pregnancy

How is monkeypox (MPX) transmitted?

Typically, monkeypox is transmitted in world regions where it is particularly common by infected animals through 

  • bites, 
  • bodily fluids (droplet infection), or through the 
  • through consumption 

transmitted to humans. 

From person to person, they can be transmitted through close physical contact. This requires skin or mucous membrane contact with the pathogen, for example via smallpox pustules, smallpox scabs or infected saliva.

The virus enters the body through tiny skin lesions or through mucous membranes (eyes, mouth, nose, genitals, anus).

Transmission of monkeypox during sex

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) points out that transmission via semen or vaginal secretions is currently not considered certain. Monkeypox is not a sexually transmitted disease in the strict sense. Due to the physical proximity and the skin and mucous membrane contacts, for example 

  • when stroking, 
  • lying close together or 
  • kissing 

transmission is also possible during sex.

At what point is transmission with monkeypox virus (MPXV) possible?

A risk of infection already exists with unspecific symptoms such as fever, headache and pain in the limbs, i.e. before skin changes can occur.

different Monkeypox

Illustration of different monkeypox pustules (Photo: UKHSA).

However, the pock-like skin changes are particularly infectious. A particularly large number of viruses are found there and can be transmitted via leaking fluid or crusted scabs. 

How can I protect myself from monkeypox (MPX)?

Avoiding close physical contact protects against transmission of monkeypox.

If you come into contact with an infected person, for example in a shared household, then special attention should be paid to hygiene. That is:

  • Do not use the same dishes.
  • Avoid contact with bed linen, clothing and towels of the infected person.
  • If possible, do not shake bedding, as this can cause infected material to swirl into the air.
  • Wearing a mouth-nose mask can prevent the virus from being absorbed through the mouth and nose.
  • Because monkeypox virus can persist on surfaces for a long time, door handles and toilet seats, for example, should be disinfected regularly.

Transmission of monkeypox during pregnancy

Transmission during pregnancy to the child has been noted. Similarly, infected parents can transmit the virus to the child after birth through skin contact. 


Robert Koch Institute (RKI) - Only german