Here’s how to treat virus as Britain’s cases hit 106 & NHS 111 ‘overloaded’ by PANIC calls

MONKEYPOX cases have now hit 106 with Brits becoming increasingly worried about the virus.

Despite some fears, health chiefs are urging those who are worried they are suffering from the virus to contact sexual health clinics rather than bombarding 111. 

Head of the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) Mateo Prochazka wants staff to be able to focus on handling other health queries. 

Mr Prochazka told The Daily Telegraph: “Sexual health clinics are not just for gay and bisexual men.

“Anyone can be seen in a sexual health clinic, regardless of gender, sexual orientation or identity. Everyone is welcome.

“There are other potential routes of trying to get yourself into the system, maybe calling NHS 111, but this resource has been really overloaded with everyone calling who had a rash.”

The NHS have also stated that what you should do if you pick up the virus.

They state: “As the infection can spread through close contact, it’s important to isolate if you’re diagnosed with it.

“You may be asked to isolate at home if your symptoms are mild.

“If your symptoms are severe or you’re at higher risk of getting seriously ill (for example, if you have a weakened immune system), you may need to stay in a specialist hospital until you recover.

“You may be offered a vaccination to reduce the risk of getting seriously ill.”

At least three people in the South West have been vaccinated against monkeypox following close contact with an infected person.

Two people from Exeter and one person in Bristol received a smallpox vaccine after potential exposure to the virus.

Read our Monkeypox blog below for the latest news and updates…

  • Warnings had come before

    Multiple scientists and studies have warned about the monkeypox virus for years as the alarm was first raised in 2018.

    A British scientist at a level four biosecurity lab – Porton Down, which works with smallpox-like viruses – first warned about its epidemic-causing potential four years ago.

    They warned how the emergence of monkeypox could have ‘potentially devastating consequences‘ for the majority of the world’s population.

  • ‘I survived the last US monkeypox outbreak – here are the warning symptoms’

    A MONKEYPOX survivor is sharing his experience with the virus as an increasing number of states report suspected cases.

    Cases have now been confirmed in the US, United Kingdom, Portugal, and Italy, while potential cases are being investigated in Canada and Spain.

    Nearly 20 years ago, Wisconsin had its own outbreak and the new cases hold painful memories for survivor Dr Kurt Zaeske.

    Back in 2003, he was a veterinarian who came in contact with the virus from a prairie dog he was treating.

    “Within about 48 hours of my handling that specimen, I became ill,” he told local news outlet WISN.

    “I started developing a blister on my thumb that didn’t look right, didn’t act right,” he said back in 2003, after being quarantined for two weeks.

    Read the article in full here.

  • Is monkeypox deadly?

    Monkeypox comes from the same family of viruses as smallpox but is much less severe.

    No deaths have been reported from the 2022 outbreak of the disease in the UK.

    The chance of catching monkeypox in the UK is very low as cases are rare.

    Cases have been linked to some festivals in Europe.

    According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) up to a tenth of people who contract the virus may die but this is mainly in younger age groups.

    The majority of those who catch monkeypox will survive.

  • Officials confident outbreak will not reach the levels of covid

    Officials are confident that the outbreak will not reach the levels of covid, believing that the risk to the public is low. 

    But they have urged Brits, especially gay and bisexual men, to be on the look out for any new rashes or lesions.  

    Teams from the UKHSA have been contacting high-risk contacts of confirmed cases and are advising them to self-isolate at home for three weeks and avoid contact with children.

    Both confirmed cases and close contacts are being offered the Imvanex vaccine to form a buffer of immune people around a confirmed case to limit the spread of the disease.

  • How long is the incubation period?

    The virus has an incubation period of up to 21 days, which means it can take three weeks for symptoms to appear.

    They include suffering from a fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion.

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

    Health officials are planning on isolating infected people’s pets in an attempt to stop the outbreak. 

  • Where has Monkeypox come from?

    Monkeypox is a rare viral infection which is endemic 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.

  • Explained: How to treat monkeypox

    Monkeypox symptoms last between two and four weeks. There is no treatment for it – it gets better on its own.

    There are no specific vaccines available for monkeypox, either.

    But outbreaks can be controlled using contact tracing.

    A vaccine developed for smallpox – which was declared eradicated in 1980 – is also licensed for monkeypox.

    This jab has been proven to be 85 per cent effective in preventing monkeypox. However, most people in the UK will not be vaccinated against smallpox given that it is no longer in circulation.

    The Government has stocks of the smallpox vaccine which is being offered to very close contacts of those affected. These people also have to isolate for 21 days.

  • If you catch it, ‘isolation is the most effective measure’

    Dr Carlos Maluquer de Motes, Reader in Molecular Virology, University of Surrey, said: “Isolation is one of the most effective measures to contain the spread of a disease, particularly a viral disease, because it limits the number of susceptible individuals that can be exposed to the virus.

    “Isolation of confirmed cases and the identification and vaccination of all their close contacts creates a circle of protected people around a positive case that is very effective in breaking chains of transmission.

    “This ‘ring vaccination’ strategy was successfully used to eradicate smallpox, so it is a proven strategy to contain poxvirus disease.”

  • Brits are ‘overloading’ NHS 111 with panic calls

    Brits are swamping the NHS over fears that their rash might be linked to the monkeypox outbreak. 

    Health chiefs are urging those who are worried they are suffering from the virus to contact sexual health clinics rather than bombarding 111. 

    Head of the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) Mateo Prochazka wants staff to be able to focus on handling other health queries. 

    Mr Prochazka told The Daily Telegraph: “Sexual health clinics are not just for gay and bisexual men.

    “Anyone can be seen in a sexual health clinic, regardless of gender, sexual orientation or identity. Everyone is welcome.

    “There are other potential routes of trying to get yourself into the system, maybe calling NHS 111, but this resource has been really overloaded with everyone calling who had a rash.”

  • The signs of monkeypox you need to know

    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.

    At first it can look like chickenpox, before bumps become raised and filled with pus.

    These lesions finally form a scab, which later falls off.

  • Loved pets may have to be PUT DOWN to control spread on monkeypox

    Pet gerbils and hamsters can catch monkeypox and may have to be put down to control its spread, health chiefs have warned.

    They said the rodents must be quarantined in a lab for three weeks if a person in their home catches the virus.

    But the creatures may have to be killed as a last resort.

    If pets pass it to other animals, it could spread out of control.

    Cats, dogs and rabbits are lower risk but should be isolated at home and have regular vet checks, the UK Health Security Agency said.

    Yesterday 16 more human UK cases were reported, taking the total to 106 — with 101 of them in England.

  • Monkeypox outbreak could be just ‘the peak of the iceberg’

    The World Health Organization has warned that 200 monkeypox cases found in recent weeks outside countries where the virus usually circulates could be just the beginning.

    Sylvie Briand, WHO’s epidemic and pandemic preparedness and prevention chief said: “We don’t know if we are just seeing the peak of the iceberg [or] if there are many more cases that are undetected in communities.”

    Monkeypox is related to smallpox, a deadly disease that was eradicated in 1980.

  • The UK’s small outbreak of Monkeypox

    THE UK has seen a small outbreak of monkeypox – but many people still don’t know much about the virus.

    The mystery outbreaks, starting in May 2022, are concerning health leaders. However, the threat to the public is still considered low.

    While monkeypox is a mild illness which gets better with time, in very rare cases it can lead to death. About six per cent of cases are fatal, the World Health Organization (WHO) says.

    One world health leader has said sex occurring at two raves in Europe could be behind the mystery monkeypox outbreaks. 

    Professor David Heymann, who formerly headed WHO’s emergencies department, said the leading theory “was sexual transmission among gay and bisexual men at two raves held in Spain and Belgium”, AP reported.

    Dr Heymann said it is one hypothesis among many, and added it’s known that monkeypox can spread when there is close contact with the lesions of someone who is infected, “and it looks like sexual contact has now amplified that transmission”.

    Monkeypox is not known as a sexually transmitted infection (STI), but it can be passed on by direct contact during sex, possibly through contaminated items such as bed linen, clothing and towels.

  • NHS only has space to treat 50 monkeypox patients (1/2)

    THE NHS only has enough space to treat 50 monkeypox patients, as cases continue to rise in the UK.

    Guidance from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) states that all confirmed cases need to be transferred to high consequence infectious disease (HCID) units if they need hospital care.

    But just 15 beds are believed to have existed before Covid- with the spread of the virus ramping up capacity.

    Now sources say there are only 50 beds and many people will have to quarantine at home, the MailOnline reported.

    Experts said there is ‘always a risk beds will run out’, especially if the situation ‘deteriorates further’.

    It’s unclear whether the HCID units were kept following the pandemic, with many centres having being closed.

    Around 57 Brits have the illness, with more cases having been announced yesterday.

    Number 10 is ‘keeping an eye’ on the situation – but travel restrictions have been ruled out.

  • Monkeypox patients could be infectious WEEKS after recovery

    SEVERE monkeypox patients may be infectious for up to ten weeks, scientists fear.

    An investigation of previous patients who had the disease found one man tested positive more than 70 days after he first showed symptoms.

    It comes as cases of the virus reach 71 in the UK, and health officials have urged people to stay alert to symptoms.

    Signs of the disease in the early stages include fever, headache, chills, back and muscle aches.

    Patients are contagious until their scabs fall off, the UK Health and Security Agency (UKHSA) says, and the scabs themselves can contain viral material.

    However, the latest study, published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, suggests people may be infectious long after their rash has settled.

    Study author Dr Hugh Adler, from the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, said: “It remains positive in the throat and blood for the length of the illness and maybe even longer after the rash is resolved. 

    “We don’t know that this means these patients are more infectious or infectious for longer, but it does inform us of the biology of disease.”

  • Statement from Ireland’s health executive after nation reports first case

    The first confirmed case of monkeypox has been identified in Ireland, the Health Service Executive (HSE) has said.

    The infection was reported in the east of the country on Friday night and the person affected was not kept in hospital.

    A further suspected case is also being investigated and test results are being awaited, health officials said.

    A public health risk assessment has been undertaken and those who have been in contact with the person are being advised on what to do in the event that they become ill.

    A statement from HSE said: “The Health Protection Surveillance Centre was notified last night of a confirmed case of monkeypox in Ireland, in the east of the country.”

    “This was not unexpected following the presence of monkeypox cases in the UK and many European countries,” it added.

    “Public Health is following up those who had close contact with the person with monkeypox while they were infectious.

    “In order to maintain patient confidentiality, no further information about this person will be provided.”

  • When was monkeypox first detected?

    Monkeypox was first detected in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1970 and is considered endemic in around a dozen African countries.

    Its appearance in non-endemic countries has worried experts, although those cases reported so far have been mostly mild and there have been no deaths.

    There have been at least a half-dozen confirmed or suspected cases in the US.

  • Mexico confirms first monkeypox case

    Health officials in Mexico have today confirmed the country’s first known case of monkeypox, in a 50-year-old US resident being treated in Mexico City.

    The man, a permanent resident of New York City, “was probably infected in the Netherlands,” Hugo Lopez-Gatell, an undersecretary of health, said on Twitter.

    “Fortunately, he is stable and in preventive isolation,” Lopez-Gatell said. “We hope he will recover without complications.”

    He provided no information on the patient’s possible contacts with other people.

  • So, just how dangerous is monkeypox?

    Monkeypox is very rare so unless you have been to West or Central Africa or been in contact with someone who has it, there is little reason to worry.

    The disease is transmitted through contact with blood, body fluids, spots, blisters or scabs of an infected individual.

    Animals can also be infected as the disease originated from them, meaning if you are bitten by an infected animal you can also catch monkeypox.

    It is possible to become infected by touching the clothes or bed sheets which have been used by someone with Monkeypox.

    This means that the danger of contracting the disease is low, with around 20 cases confirmed in the UK currently.

    If you do catch monkeypox, you are very unlikely to die from it.

    Read the article in full here.

  • Explained: What is the public health advice?

    The NHS suggests that it is rare that anyone in the UK who has not been in contact with an infected person or travelled to Africa recently will have the virus.

    If you are infected you should isolate and inform the NHS.

    Nevertheless, they suggest washing your hands regularly with soap or hand sanitiser and only eating meat which has been fully cooked.

    They also have a list of things to avoid:

    • Avoid wild or stray animals, including dead animals
    • Avoid any animals that appear unwell
    • Do not eat or touch meat from wild animals (bush meat)
    • Do not share bedding or towels with people who are unwell and may have monkeypox
    • Do not have close contact with people who are unwell and may have monkeypox
  • US CDC publishes guidelines on monkeypox vaccine

    The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Friday published recommendations by its group of independent experts on a smallpox vaccine that limit its use to only people who work closely with viruses such as monkeypox.

    The Jynneos vaccine, made by Bavarian Nordic, will be available for the recommended groups at a time when monkeypox infections are spreading in Europe, United States and beyond.

    The publication of the vote by the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which took place in November last year, formalizes the recommendations.

  • Ireland secures order of monkeypox vaccines

    Ireland has secured an order of vaccines against monkeypox, HSE boss Paul Reid has said.

    The chief executive said he expects the delivery to be made “very shortly”.

    Mr Reid also said it is “more likely than not” that Ireland will see cases of monkeypox.

    He made the comments after health officials in Northern Ireland confirmed a case of monkeypox was identified in the region on Thursday.

    He said: “More likely than not, we will see cases in our health service. It doesn’t spread easily between people, it’s generally a skin-to-skin transmission. We’ve secured an order of vaccines that we expect to deliver very shortly.”

    He added that the HSE is considering vaccinating healthcare workers, but will take advice from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee on the matter.

  • Argentina confirms South America’s first monkeypox cases

    Argentina confirmed the first two cases of monkeypox in Latin America on Friday, the Ministry of Health said in statements.

    Spain, England and Portugal are the countries with the most cases in the recent outbreak of this usually mild viral disease outside their endemic areas, normally found in parts of West and Central Africa.

    “The outcome of the PCR result of the case in question is positive,” the Health Ministry said about Argentina’s first case, adding that the patient is in good health and people who were in close contact with the individual were under clinical and epidemiological control, with no symptoms so far.

    Later in the afternoon, the ministry confirmed another case, of a Spanish citizen who arrived in Argentina on Wednesday and began to develop ulcerous lesions the next day.

    “The patient is in good general condition, isolated and receiving symptomatic treatment,” the ministry said.

    Most of the reported infections around the world so far have not been serious. Many, but not all, the people who have been diagnosed in the current monkeypox outbreak have been men who have sex with men. Symptoms include fever and a rash.

    Around 20 countries where monkeypox is not endemic have reported outbreaks of the viral disease, with more than 200 confirmed or suspected infections, mostly in Europe.

  • Holiday warning as monkeypox hits favourite UK summer destination

    A BRITISH tourist staying at a favourite holiday hotspot in Spain is being tested for monkeypox.

    Health chiefs in the region confirmed the holidaymaker on the Canary Island of Fuerteventura was one of five suspected new cases currently being analysed.

    The age of the unnamed man, thought to be the first British tourist in Spain affected since the country announced its first cases last week, has not been revealed.

    A spokesman for the Canary Islands’ Health Service confirmed in a short statement: “A suspected case of monkeypox in Fuerteventura corresponds to a British tourist.”

    It is not yet known when they will confirm whether he has the disease.

    Authorities have not said if he is holidaying alone on the island or relaxing with relatives who are also being tested.

    Spain has so far confirmed around 40 cases of monkeypox and said another 67 people are being tested.

  • Ireland confirms its first case of monkeypox

    Ireland has confirmed its first case of monkeypox, the country’s health agency said on Saturday.

    A separate suspected case is also being investigated and test results are awaited, the Health Service Executive (HSE) said in a statement.

    Around 20 countries where monkeypox is not endemic have reported outbreaks of the viral disease, with more than 200 confirmed or suspected infections mostly in Europe.

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