Saturday, July 2, 2022

UK urges people with monkeypox to abstain from sex as cases rise

Test tubes labeled “Monkeypox virus positive and negative” are seen in this illustration taken on May 23, 2022.

Looking at Ruvik | Reuters

UK health authorities have urged anyone who has tested positive for the monkeypox virus to abstain from sex until their symptoms have cleared.

In new guidance released on Monday, the UK’s Health Protection Agency also recommended that previously infected individuals continue to use condoms for a period of eight weeks after passing on the virus as a precaution.

The health agency said the risk to the general public remains low, but encouraged people to contact a health professional if they notice any unusual rashes or sores.

The advice comes after an additional 71 cases of the virus were reported in the UK over the weekend, less than a month after the UK’s first case totaled 179 on May.

The UK now has the highest number of monkeypox cases among non-endemic countries, followed by Spain with 120 and Portugal with 96.

As of Monday, there were 555 confirmed and suspected cases of monkeypox in countries outside Africa, according to Our World in Data.

increased risk of sexual transmission

Monkeypox is a rare infectious disease commonly found in Central and West African countries. Symptoms include rashes, fever, headache, muscle aches, swelling and back pain.

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While the virus is usually mild, usually clearing up on its own within two to four weeks, health experts have expressed concern over the recent increase in cases in countries where monkeypox does not usually spread, and Increased risk of community transmission.

According to the World Health Organization, the majority of cases are spread through sex, with a particular concentration of cases occurring within gay and bisexual communities and men who have sex with men.

A section of skin tissue harvested from a wound on the skin of a monkey infected with the monkeypox virus is seen at 50X magnification on the fourth day of rash development in 1968.

CDC | Reuters

The public health body said on Monday it was not yet clear whether the recent outbreak could lead to a global pandemic, but said there is currently a window of opportunity to stem the rising number of cases.

“Collectively, the world has an opportunity to stop this outbreak. There is a window,” WHO’s technical head for monkeypox, Rosamund Lewis, said during a briefing.

The WHO also said it is currently considering whether the outbreak should be assessed as a “potential public health emergency of international concern”. Such an announcement was made for the outbreaks of COVID-19 and Ebola, and would enable additional research and funding to prevent the disease, it noted.

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What to do if you get monkeypox

If you suspect that you may have monkeypox, you should isolate yourself from physical contact with others and seek medical advice immediately.

Early symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headache, muscle aches, swelling and back pain. Rashes and sores usually appear on the face, hands, feet, eyes, mouth, or genitals within one to five days. Those rashes turn into raised bumps and then blisters, which may fill with a white fluid before breaking and scraping off.

Many symptoms of the virus can easily be confused with those of other diseases such as chickenpox, shingles or syphilis, however, medical confirmation is important.

If you are diagnosed with monkeypox, UK guidance is that you will need to remain isolated until the virus has passed. Close contacts of someone with monkeypox may also be assessed for risk and asked to isolate for 21 days.

The illness is usually mild and most people recover within two to four weeks. While medical advice currently varies among countries, the UK’s National Health Service notes that you may need to stay in a specialist hospital to prevent spreading the infection to other people.

Nation World News Desk
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