Two cases of monkeypox have been confirmed in the South West, according to the latest Government data. The figures were shared by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) in its latest update, but do not specify where in the region the cases have been detected.
The figures released by UKHSA show that, as of June 8, two cases of monkeypox had been detected in the South West. At that point, the majority of cases in England had been confirmed in London (224).
This comes after it was revealed at least three people in the South West had been vaccinated against monkeypox after close contact. Two people in Exeter and one person in Bristol were given a smallpox vaccine after being potentially exposed to monkeypox, according to health chiefs.
In the latest update from Friday, UKHSA said 336 cases have been reported across the UK. It said: “The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has published its first technical briefing on the ongoing monkeypox outbreak.
“Of the cases interviewed, 81 per cent were known to be London residents and 99 per cent were male. The median age of confirmed cases in the UK was 38 years old.
“152 cases participated in more detailed questionnaires. In this data, 151 of the 152 men interviewed identified as gay, bisexual, or men who have sex with men, or reported same sex contact. Recent foreign travel, within 21 days prior to symptom onset, was reported by 75 cases, with 59 of these reporting travel within Europe.”
UKHSA said it assesses virus or bacteria for any changes, adding it would be working to investigate the significance of the mutations identified so far to determine if they will have any impact on the virus’ behaviour.
Dr Meera Chand, director of clinical and emerging infections at the UKHSA, said: “We are working, both in the UK and together with global partners, to progress the investigations that we need to help us better understand the virus, its transmission and the best use of mitigations such as vaccines and treatments. We use the new data rapidly to inform the public health response and we continue to work to reduce transmission.”
The NHS describes monkeypox as “a rare infection that’s mainly spread by wild animals in parts of west or central Africa” and it says the risk of catching it in the UK is low. The NHS states: “Monkeypox can also be spread through:
- touching clothing, bedding or towels used by someone with the monkeypox rash;
- touching monkeypox skin blisters or scabs;
- the coughs or sneezes of a person with the monkeypox rash.”
And it adds: “Although more people have been diagnosed with it recently, only a small number of people in the UK have had monkeypox and the risk remains low.
“You’re extremely unlikely to have monkeypox if:
- you have not been in close contact (such as touching their skin or sharing bedding) with someone who has monkeypox or has monkeypox symptoms;
- you have not recently travelled to west or central Africa.”
The first symptoms for monkeypox take between five and 21 days to appear. These include a high temperature, a headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen glands, shivering (chills) and exhaustion.