May 23, 2022, 17:01 | Updated: May 23, 2022, 17:13
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) says the number of confirmed cases of monkeypox in the UK has reached 56.
This is up from 20, while Scotland also confirmed its first case today, bringing the UK’s total to 57.
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) says that although the current outbreak of monkeypox cases is “significant and worrying”, the risk to the UK population remains at low.
Dr Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser at UKHSA, said: “Along with reports of other cases identified in other countries globally, we continue to identify additional cases. in the UK.
“Thank you to everyone who has tested and supported our contact tracing efforts – you are helping us limit the spread of this infection in the UK.
“Since the virus is spread through close contact, we recommend that people be aware of any unusual rash or lesions and contact sexual health care if they have any symptoms. any evidence.
“A remarkable proportion of recent cases in the UK and Europe have been detected in gay and bisexual men, so we strongly encourage these men to be alert to symptoms. “
Cases of monkeypox have been reported in 14 countries, according to epidemiologists at Harvard University who are monitoring the spread, including 40 cases in Spain and 23 cases. in Portugal.
Monkeypox is commonly found in West Africa, and the virus is not commonly spread elsewhere.
Person-to-person transmission is occurring in the UK, with a large proportion of cases being identified in the gay, bisexual and male community.
Monkeypox is not normally a sexually transmitted disease, but it can be transmitted by direct sexual contact.
It can also be spread by touching clothing, bedding, or towels used by a person with monkeypox, and through coughs and sneezes by an infected person.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said monkeypox was a rare disease but it was important to “keep an eye on it”.
He told reporters during a visit to a school in south-east London: “It’s basically a very rare disease and so far the consequences don’t seem too serious, but the important thing is that we I have to keep an eye on it and that’s exactly what the new UK Health Security Agency is doing.”
Asked whether travelers should be quarantined or the smallpox vaccine administered, Mr Johnson said: “By all accounts it’s rare.
“I think we are looking very carefully at the cases of transmission. It has yet to prove fatal in any of the cases that we know of, certainly not in this country.”
The government has a stockpile of smallpox vaccine, which is being given to people who are in very close contact with those who have been affected.
Those most at risk are being asked to self-isolate at home for 21 days, with others being warned to monitor for symptoms.
The disease is usually mild but can cause severe illness in some cases.
Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, back pain, swollen lymph nodes, chills, and exhaustion.
A rash may develop, usually starting on the face, then spreading to other parts of the body including the genitals.
The first case identified in the UK was a person who had returned from Nigeria, but the other cases were not related to travel.
Downing Street said there were no plans to hold an emergency committee meeting on cobras on monkeypox, or impose any travel bans.
The prime minister’s official spokesman also said that while vaccines were being made available to close contacts, there were no plans for a “large-scale” vaccination programme.
According to UKHSA, monkeypox is not generally contagious between humans and the overall risk to the UK population remains low.
Anyone with a rash or unusual lesions on any part of their body, especially their genitals, should contact NHS 111 or call sexual health services if they have concerns. .