The outbreak of monkeypox in Britain may be nearing its peak, health officials said on Friday, noting that the rate of growth of the pandemic has slowed.
The UK’s Health Protection Agency said in a statement that with 2,859 cases detected since May, there are signs that the outbreak is decreasing. No deaths have been recorded.
Last month, officials estimated the size of the outbreak was doubling every two weeks, but recently the number of new infections has decreased.
Although the most recent data indicates that the growth of the outbreak has slowed, we cannot be satisfied, said Dr Meera Chand, director of clinical and emerging infections at the Agency for Health Protection. He added that anyone who thinks they may have monkeypox should stop hanging out with friends, not attending social gatherings, and avoiding sexual contact.
According to the Health Protection Agency, the most recent analysis of its outbreaks shows that monkeypox continues to be transmitted primarily through mutual sexual networks of men who are gay, bisexual or who have sex with men. More than 70% of UK cases are in London.
British officials noted fewer infections among women, but said there was not enough evidence to suggest a continued spread of monkeypox beyond gay and bisexual men. 99% of all cases reported in the UK are in men.
Scientists analyzing monkeypox viruses in Britain noted several mutations, comparing them to viruses circulating in Africa, but said there is no evidence that these genetic changes make monkeypox more contagious.