Wednesday, May 18, 2022

UKHSA Reports 2 More Confirmed Monkeypox Cases In The UK



The UK today confirmed 2 additional Monkeypox infections, bringing their total in recent days to 9.  This, combined with multiple cases confirmed in Spain and Portugal over the past 24 hours, strongly suggests this rare virus - normally found in Africa - has been circulating in European/UK community for some time. 

While community outbreaks in Europe are unexpected, over the past decade we've seen signs that the Monkeypox threat has been increasing in Africa, sparking concerns that it could eventually pose a bigger international health problem (see WHO: Modelling Human-to-Human Transmission of Monkeypox).

It seems likely that more cases, possibility even from additional countries, will surface in the days and weeks ahead.  The CDC describes the transmission of Monkeypox as:

Transmission of monkeypox virus occurs when a person comes into contact with the virus from an animal, human, or materials contaminated with the virus. The virus enters the body through broken skin (even if not visible), respiratory tract, or the mucous membranes (eyes, nose, or mouth).

The traditional wisdom is that Monkeypox is only transmisible after symptoms appear, but this almost certainly assumes via casual contact.  The dynamics of transmission between sexual partners or other intimate contacts is less well understood. 

Although sexual transmission has not been established with Monkeypox, as we've seen previously with Ebola, Dengue, and Zika, one should never say never. 

One thing is certain. We will know a lot more about the potential for Monkeypox to spread outside of Africa six months from now. 

Latest updates on cases of monkeypox identified by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).

From:UK Health Security Agency  Last updated 18 May 2022 — See all updates
Two more cases of monkeypox identified by UKHSA

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has detected 2 additional cases of monkeypox, one in London and one in the South East of England.

The latest cases bring the total number of monkeypox cases confirmed in England since 6 May to 9, with recent cases predominantly in gay, bisexual or men who have sex with men (MSM).

The 2 latest cases have no travel links to a country where monkeypox is endemic, so it is possible they acquired the infection through community transmission.

The virus spreads through close contact and UKHSA is advising individuals, particularly those who are gay, bisexual or MSM, to be alert to any unusual rashes or lesions on any part of their body, especially their genitalia, and to contact a sexual health service if they have concerns.

Monkeypox has not previously been described as a sexually transmitted infection, though it can be passed on by direct contact during sex. It can also be passed on through other close contact with a person who has monkeypox or contact with clothing or linens used by a person who has monkeypox.

The 2 new cases do not have known connections with previous confirmed cases announced on 16, 14 and 7 May.

UKHSA is working closely with the NHS and other stakeholders to urgently investigate where and how recent confirmed monkeypox cases were acquired, including how they may be linked to each other.

The virus does not usually spread easily between people. The risk to the UK population remains low.

Anyone with concerns that they could be infected with monkeypox is advised to contact NHS 111 or a sexual health clinic. People should notify clinics ahead of their visit. We can assure them their call or discussion will be treated sensitively and confidentially.

Monkeypox is a viral infection usually associated with travel to West Africa. It is usually a mild self-limiting illness, spread by very close contact with someone with monkeypox and most people recover within a few weeks.

Dr Susan Hopkins, Chief Medical Adviser, UKHSA, said:
These latest cases, together with reports of cases in countries across Europe, confirms our initial concerns that there could be spread of monkeypox within our communities.
UKHSA has quickly identified cases so far and we continue to rapidly investigate the source of these infections and raise awareness among healthcare professionals.
We are particularly urging men who are gay and bisexual to be aware of any unusual rashes or lesions and to contact a sexual health service without delay if they have concerns. Please contact clinics ahead of your visit.
We are contacting any identified close contacts of the cases to provide health information and advice.
Clinicians should be alert to individuals presenting with rashes without a clear alternative diagnosis and should contact specialist services for advice.
Initial symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion. A rash can develop, often beginning on the face, then spreading to other parts of the body including the genitals.
The rash changes and goes through different stages, and can look like chickenpox or syphilis, before finally forming a scab, which later falls off.