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Monkeypox: 20 cases now confirmed in the UK

Sajid Javid has updated G7 health ministers on what is known about the spread of the virus.

20 May 2022

Eleven new cases of monkeypox have been confirmed in the UK, the Health Secretary has said.

Sajid Javid tweeted that he had updated G7 health ministers on what is known about the spread of the virus. There are now 20 cases recorded in the UK.

He said: “Most cases are mild, and I can confirm we have procured further doses of vaccines that are effective against monkeypox.”

The Government has some stocks of the smallpox vaccine, which can be effective against monkeypox as the viruses are quite similar.

Monkeypox cases are usually found in West Africa, and the virus does not often spread elsewhere.

That is why outbreaks reported across Europe, Canada, Australia and the United States have cased alarm among public health experts.

The disease, which was first discovered in monkeys, is usually mild but can cause severe illness in some cases.

Symptoms of monkeypox include 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.

The rash can look like chickenpox or syphilis, and scabs can form which then fall off.

The incubation period of monkeypox is usually from six to 13 days but can range from five to 21 days.

The cases in the UK are not all one cluster, with separate cases springing up that are unconnected.

The first case identified was in a person who had returned from Nigeria but other cases are unrelated to travel, suggesting there is community transmission.

Several cases have been confirmed in gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men who have attended sexual health services.

Monkeypox is not normally a sexually-transmitted infection, but it can be passed on by direct contact during sex.

It can also be spread through touching clothing, bedding or towels used by someone with the monkeypox rash, and through the coughs and sneezes of somebody with the infection.

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