Chickenpox could have a “huge impact” on access to sexual health services, a top doctor has warned.

The disease, first detected in monkeys, can be transmitted from person to person through close physical contact – including sexual contact.

The number of confirmed cases in the UK has reached 20 after 11 new cases were recorded on Friday and nine other countries outside Central and West Africa also reported outbreaks.

Dr Claire Dewsnap, chair of the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV, said she was concerned about how contagion could affect services as staff who come into contact with infected people are forced to stay isolated. glass.

She told the BBC that clinic staff were “under considerable pressure” before monkeypox was identified, making the situation worse.

Dr Dewsnap said: “It is stretching the workforce and will have a big impact if employees are to be quarantined if they come into close contact with an infected person.

“As for the contagion and its consequences for individuals, I’m not concerned about that,” she later told BBC Radio 4.

“But I am concerned about our ability to maintain good sexual health services and access to all while keeping this new infection under control.”

Dr Dewsnap also called for “fully funded” sexual health services.

She told BBC Breakfast: “Over the past 10 years, funding through the public health budget has dropped dramatically.

“And that has directly affected staffing levels and that means we are less likely to see people.

“We used to be able to see people within 48 hours of them contacting us – that’s really important because it cuts down on the window where people get the infection, they don’t know they’re infected. germs and thus they can transmit the disease to People.

“So the rate at which we’re seeing people is really serious and the impending monkeypox shows us that more than ever.

“So we need enough funding to be able to staff enough with the specialists we need and appropriately trained staff in the clinics so we can make sure everyone has can get to the doctor quickly and so we can reduce the risk of infecting others.”

Meanwhile, Professor Sir Peter Horby, director of the Institute of Pandemic Sciences at the University of Oxford, described the current monkeypox outbreak as “an unusual situation”, because the virus is being transmitted in communities outside Central and West Africa.

Sir Peter told BBC Radio 4 on Saturday: “It’s transmitted by person-to-person contact and we haven’t seen it to be highly contagious before.

“What’s unusual about what we’re seeing now is that we’re seeing community transmission in Europe and now in other countries, so it’s an unusual situation where we We seem to have introduced the virus, but now there is continued transmission within certain communities. ”

He added: “There seems to be some element of sexual transmission perhaps only with very close person-to-person contact with skin lesions, because a large proportion of cases are now being detected. present in gay and bisexual men.

“So it’s very important for us to get the message across that if people have unusual skin lesions, they need to seek attention quickly so we can get this under control.

“It is important that we interrupt transmission and this is not established in the human community in Europe.”


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