Health organisations raise concerns over monkeypox cases

Public health experts worldwide are on alert over several outbreaks of confirmed and suspected monkeypox in the UK, Portugal, Spain, Canada and the US. The World Health Organisation has begun extensive contact tracing and viral sequencing of the confirmed cases, while European health authorities are monitoring for any other suspected cases.

The UK Health Security Agency has so far detected total of nine confirmed cases in England since 6 May. The two most recent cases have no travel links to a country where monkeypox is endemic, so it is possible infection was acquired through community transmission. The UKHSA adds that the virus does not usually spread easily between people and that the risk to the UK population remains low.

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. We are contacting any identified close contacts of the cases to provide health information and advice.”

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