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Monkeypox: Patients advised to isolate for 21 days – symptoms to spot

Fitness & Health:

Monkeypox is described by the NHS as a “rare infection that’s mainly spread by wild animals in parts of West or Central Africa”. There are two strains of monkeypox, one originating in Central and one originating in West Africa. In recent weeks, the UK health authorities have become concerned by the rising number of cases of the West African variant in the UK. So far, there have been 20 confirmed cases, a number expected to rise.

Such is the rise in case numbers, the UKHSA (United Kingdom Health Security Agency) has advised that those at high risk of developing monkeypox or have been in contact with anyone who has been infected, should self-isolate for 21 days.

It has also advised that people provide their details for contact tracing and avoid contact with immunosuppressed people, pregnant women, and children under the age of 12.

Originally tracked down to one case from West Africa, officials say there is now transmission within the community.

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Chief Medical Adviser to the HSA, Doctor Susan Hopkins said: “We are finding cases that have no identified contact with an individual from West Africa, which is what we’ve seen previously in this country.”

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Doctor Hopkins added: “We would recommend to anyone who is having changes in sex partners regularly, or having close contact with individuals that they don’t know, to come forward if they develop a rash.”

As well as a rash, other symptoms of monkeypox include:
• High temperature
• Headache
• Muscle aches
• Backache
• Swollen glands
• Shivering
• Exhaustion.

Symptoms normally appear between five and 21 days after infection.

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While the rise in monkeypox cases is an unnerving development after two years fighting COVID-19, there is some reassurance in that this isn’t the first time the UK has fought monkeypox.

The first time monkeypox cases appeared in the UK was in 2018.

Meanwhile, there is also a way to protect oneself against monkeypox, through vaccination.

Although there isn’t a specific vaccine for monkeypox, the smallpox vaccine has been found to be 85 percent effective against the virus.

Doctor Hopkins said: “We’re not using the vaccine in the general population.

“We’re using it in individuals who we believe are at high risk of developing symptoms, and using it early, particularly within four to five days of the case developing and symptoms.

“For contacts, [this] reduces your risk of developing disease, so that’s how we’re focusing our vaccination efforts at this point.”

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While the UK and the rest of the world increasingly understands monkeypox and how to prevent getting it, scientists are baffled by the reason for its spread now.

Some experts say the virus has found itself in the right place at the right time.

Meanwhile the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said it is “working with the affected countries and others to expand disease surveillance to find and support people who may be affected”.

The UK isn’t the only country affected by the spread of monkeypox with the US, Israel, Europe, Canada, and Australia all registering new cases.

As the case numbers continue to rise, there is concern restrictions could return from the private to the public sphere.


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