Laboratory Testing for Monkeypox

There is currently an outbreak of Monkeypox in Europe, North America and Australia.

  • The virus is related to smallpox but is less severe. It is not easily transmitted between people. Infection occurs following close contact with an infected person, animal or contaminated material. The virus enters the body through broken skin, mucous membranes or the respiratory tract.

  • Incubation period 5-21 days.

  • The rash often begins on the face and spreads centrifugally. It goes through different stages before the resultant scabs fall off. Different stages may be present simultaneously.

  • The rash is usually preceded by a prodrome including fever and lymphadenopathy.

  • Genital lesions are also common and are the likely route of transmission in the current outbreaks.

Monkeypox lesion appearance reference

Please contact the Medical Officer of Health and Clinical Microbiologist prior to collecting samples.

Precautions during sampling: Contact (gloves and gown), droplet (N-95 mask) and eye protection.


  • Three viral swabs from base of de-roofed vesicle.

  • ± Dried scabs in dry sterile container.

  • ± EDTA blood for PCR if systemically unwell.

  • Bacterial swab if required & a further viral swab for HSV/VZV PCR if required.

  • Haematology and biochemistry bloods for other conditions as needed.

  • Include on request form details of suspected contact, travel history, date of onset.

  • Please use separate bags and request forms for routine tests and those specifically for monkeypox testing. Double bagging not required.