How many monkeypox cases are there in the UK?

CASES of monkeypox are continuing to rise in the UK with infections being found “daily,” according to experts.

The UK Health Security Agency has since updated guidance for self-isolation as authorities look to combat the “unprecedented” outbreak.

How many monkeypox cases are there in the UK?

The UK has so far confirmed 20 cases – with more expected be announced later today (Monday, May 23, 2022).

More than 80 cases have also been identified across Europe, the US, Canada, Israel and Australia.

The disease, which was first found in monkeys, can be transmitted from person to person through close physical contact – including sex.

The UK Health Security Agency has said a notable proportion of recent cases in Britain and Europe have been found in gay and bisexual men.

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At present, health chiefs are urging men who are gay and bisexual to be aware of any unusual rashes or lesions.

Anyone with unusual skin lesions should seek attention quickly, doctors advise.

What is monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a usually mild infection, with symptoms including fever, headaches and a distinctive bumpy rash. 

A rash can develop, often beginning on the face, which then spreads to other parts of the body including the genitals.

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People infected with monkeypox will usually start to experience symptoms five to 21 days after initial infection

The NHS says the first symptoms are:

  • A high temperature
  • A headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Backache
  • Swollen glands
  • Shivering (chills)
  • Exhaustion

They added that a rash usually appears one to five days after the symptoms.

If infected, the NHS says you will usually need to stay in a specialised hospital so the infection doesn't spread and your symptoms can be treated.

However, the infection usually clears up on its own and lasts between 14 and 21 days.

Where did monkeypox come from?

Monkeypox is a rare viral infection most common in remote parts of Central and West Africa.

But outbreaks in Britain, Portugal, Spain and the United States, have triggered alarm among public health experts.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the name monkeypox originates from the initial discovery of the virus in monkeys in a Danish laboratory in 1958.

The first human case was identified in a child in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1970.

Is monkeypox deadly?

The WHO says the monkeypox virus is similar to human smallpox and while it is much milder, it can be fatal.

However, they stress that “there have been no deaths associated with this outbreak.”

Is there a vaccine for monkeypox?

In Britain, authorities are offering a smallpox vaccine to healthcare workers and others who may have been exposed.

As of last week, the UK was said to have around 5,000 smallpox jabs – which are also around 85 per cent effective at preventing the new bug.

And while experts have said the overall risk remains low, Sajid Javid has ordered the UKHSA to take a belt and braces approach and secure a further 20,000 doses.

It came as another UK Government minister said monkeypox is not a “repeat of” Covid-19 given the availability of vaccinations.

Last week, a Whitehall source said: "Sajid directed procurement of the relevant vaccine months ago as a precautionary measure but we are making sure we are further ahead of the curve by taking decisive action to secure even more of the vaccine.

"We aren’t too worried at this point but will be keeping a very close eye on the situation. It’s better to be safe than sorry."

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