The World Health Organization has declared that the monkeypox outbreak in more than 70 countries is a global emergency.
Here’s everything you need to know:
What is monkeypox?
Monkeypox is related to smallpox and cases are usually found in West and Central Africa, with the virus not often spread elsewhere.
That’s why outbreaks reported in multiple countries, including the UK and across Europe, have caused alarm among public health experts.
The disease, which was first discovered in monkeys, is generally mild but can cause serious illness in some cases.
What are the symptoms?
Most monkeypox patients experience only fever, body aches, chills, and fatigue, but some may develop a rash and lesions on the face and hands that can spread to other parts of the body.
The rash may look like chicken pox or syphilis, and scabs may form which then fall off.
Most people recover within a few weeks.
The incubation period for monkeypox is usually six to 13 days, but can range from five to 21 days.
How is monkeypox spread?
The most likely route of transmission of monkeypox is close physical contact, contact with someone’s clothing, bedding, or towels with monkeypox rash or contact with blisters or scabs. monkeypox skin.
There is a lower risk of it spreading through coughing and sneezing, and as prolonged face-to-face contact would be required, this is not a major route of transmission for the monkeypox virus.
Sexual intercourse is believed to expose people to a greater risk of contracting the disease since, although it is not known to be sexually transmitted, the close physical contact involved means that exposure is more likely.
Most of the cases seen so far involve gay and bisexual men and men who have sex with men.
What is the level of risk in the UK?
The type of monkeypox involved in the outbreak is a West African variety that is said to be fatal in only one percent of cases.
UKHSA said that after the WHO declaration of global emergency, the risk to the UK remains the same.
In a July 22 update, UKHSA said the most recent data suggests the growth of the outbreak may have slowed, meaning they are continuing to identify new infections but at a more stable pace.
When did monkeypox arrive in the UK?
The first case related to the current outbreak was recorded in England on 7 May 2022.
Scotland registered its first case on 23 May, while Wales and Northern Ireland confirmed the cases on 26 May.
How many cases are there currently in the UK?
As of 21 July, there were 2,208 confirmed cases in the UK.
Of these, 2,115 were in England, and the UK Health Security Agency said a high percentage of cases were in London.
What is the current public health guide for monkeypox?
The UKHSA’s guide to close contacts of a confirmed case of monkeypox has been updated to warn that close contacts do not need to isolate themselves at home if they have no symptoms.
Close contacts are advised to call NHS 111 or a sexual health clinic if they develop fever or symptoms of monkeypox and avoid skin-to-skin contact with others, avoid international travel if possible, and let staff know health care or dental facility who are in close contact before attending appointments.
Since it can take up to three weeks for symptoms to appear after being in contact with someone with monkeypox, people are advised to be alert for symptoms after having skin-to-skin or sexual contact with someone. again.
Why has the WHO declared a global emergency?
There are now more than 16,000 reported cases from 75 countries and territories and five deaths, said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, compared to 3,040 cases in 47 countries about a month ago.
He acknowledged that the committee was unable to reach consensus that the outbreak represents a public health emergency of international concern.
But he said it is an outbreak “which has spread rapidly around the world, through new modes of transmission, which we know too little about, and which meets the criteria of the International Health Regulations” and has therefore decided that it should be declared. a global emergency