Health officials have announced another 36 cases of monkeypox in the UK, up from 20 on Friday. It comes when Scottish health authorities announced on Monday morning that the first case had been discovered.
In an update Monday afternoon, Dr Sue Hopkins, chief medical adviser to the UK Health Agency (UKHSA), said: “Along with reports of new cases in other parts of the world, we continue to detect additional cases in the UK. Thanks to everyone who has already come forward for testing and supported our contact tracking efforts – you are helping us limit the spread of this infection in the UK. “
She added that the virus is spread through close contact, UKHSA encourages people to be aware of any unusual rash or damage and to contact the sexual health service if they have any symptoms.
UKHSA said it has purchased supplies of a “safe” smallpox vaccine, and it is offered to those who have had close contact with someone diagnosed with monkeypox. Those considered to be at high risk after infection are advised to isolate themselves at home for up to 21 days.
Health authorities have confirmed that as of Monday, 1,000 doses of Imvanex vaccine have been issued or are being issued to NHS trusts.
There are currently over 3,500 doses of Imvanex in the UK.
The news comes after the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control said EU countries should review the availability of smallpox vaccines and upgrade their contract tracking systems, as 85 cases of monkeypox have been identified in eight EU countries.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4 today, Sir Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust, said: “We have never seen anything like this with so many cases” in many countries.
He added: “The virus may have changed, but I think it is unlikely. I think it’s more likely that the niche in which this virus now finds itself has allowed some super-spreading events to take place, and those people who have been involved in it have traveled to other parts of the world and taken the infection with them. “
He said the fact that the virus “spread so quickly across borders” is different from what we have seen before.
Experts said that although the spread of monkeypox is unlikely to be considered on the same scale as Covid.
Smallpox is transmitted by close contact between people who can be infected by airborne droplets, by contact with infected lesions.
Dr David Heyman, who previously headed the WHO emergency department, told the Associated Press that the leading theory explaining the spread of the disease was sexual transmission at events in Spain and Belgium.
“We know that monkeypox can spread through close contact with the lesions of an infected person, and it looks like sexual contact has now intensified this transmission,” Dr. Heyman said.
To date, a significant number of cases of gays, bisexuals and men having sex with men have been reported in the UK and Europe, but there is no evidence that monkeypox is a sexually transmitted disease.
According to The Sunday Times, one child was in intensive care with the disease.
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