Monkeypox: Expert outlines ‘different’ behaviour in outbreak

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The UK is currently seeing an unprecedented rise in cases of monkeypox – a rare disease that is caused by infection with monkeypox virus. The leading hypothesis is that the viral infection was imported from Western Africa, although this is still being actively investigated. So far, 20 cases of monkeypox have been detected in the UK.

The president of the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) predicts this number will jump in the coming weeks.

Speaking to Sky News, Doctor Dewsnap said: “There is going to be more diagnoses over the next week. How many is hard to say.

“What worries me the most is there are infections across Europe, so this has already spread.

“It’s already circulating in the general population. Getting on top of all those people’s contacts is a massive job.”

The doc added: “It could be really significant numbers over the next two or three weeks.”

The UK is actively taking measures to contain the spread of monkeypox.

According to Doctor Dewsnap, some clinic staff have received the smallpox vaccine, which can be effective against monkeypox, and talks are taking place about giving doses to “potential risk groups”.

Monkeypox – latest developments

A total of 120 confirmed or suspected cases have been reported globally.

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Switzerland recorded its first confirmed case on Saturday. Israel also reported its first cases – a man in his 30s who had returned from a trip to Western Europe.

It comes after Spain, Portugal, Italy, Sweden, and Canada all reported infections in the past week, mostly in young men who hadn’t previously travelled to Africa.

France, Belgium, and Australia reported their first cases on Friday.

What is driving the spread?

David Heymann, an infectious disease specialist at the World Health Organisation, said he believed the viral infection had entered the population as a “sexual form”.

“What seems to be happening now is that it has got into the population as a sexual form, as a genital form, and is being spread as are sexually transmitted infections, which has amplified its transmission around the world,” he said.

The symptoms to spot

The CDC says: “In humans, the symptoms of monkeypox are similar to but milder than the symptoms of smallpox.”

According to the health body, monkeypox begins with fever, headache, muscle aches, and exhaustion.

Other symptoms include:

  • Backache
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Chills.

Can I reduce my risk?

Thankfully, the cases of monkeypox detected in the UK have all been mild so far.

However, monkeypox can prove life-threatening if left untreated.

According to the NHS, there are things you can do to reduce your risk of getting it.

These include:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water regularly or use alcohol-based hand sanitiser
  • Only eating meat that has been cooked thoroughly.

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