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PHA issues advice as monkeypox cases continue to increase in UK

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) continue to detect additional cases of monkeypox across the UK, with the total number of confirmed cases to 190 as at 30 May 2022.

There are currently 2 confirmed cases in Northern Ireland, 1 in Wales, 4 in Scotland, and 183 in England.

The risk to the UK population remains low, but people are asked to be alert to any new rashes or lesions, which would appear like spots, ulcers or blisters, on any part of their body.

Northern Ireland’s Public Health Agency has said, given the presence of monkeypox cases elsewhere in the UK, it is not unexpected for cases to be detected in here in the province.

The virus can be passed on through close person-to-person contact, or contact with items used by a person who has monkeypox, such as clothes, bedding or utensils. Monkeypox is usually a self-limiting illness and most people recover within a few weeks.

Dr Gillian Armstrong, Head of Health Protection at the PHA, said:

“Following the detection of cases of monkeypox in England the PHA has been in regular contact with UKHSA regarding the situation and we established a local multidisciplinary incident management team (IMT) to ensure that we are fully prepared for any potential risk to the population of Northern Ireland. “The PHA has been working closely with Trusts and GPs to raise awareness of the disease, and set up testing arrangements and clinical pathways.

“Cases of monkeypox are rare as the virus does not spread easily between people; therefore the risk to the Northern Ireland population is considered low. “Appropriate public health actions are being taken and the PHA is working with UKHSA to investigate any potential links with UK cases and we will contact any potential close contacts to provide health information and advice.”

SYMPTOMS Initial symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion. A rash can develop, often beginning on the face, then spreading to other parts of the body including the genitals. The rash changes and goes through different stages – it can look like chickenpox or syphilis, before finally forming a scab which later falls off.

Anyone who thinks they have been at risk of exposure with unusual rashes or lesions on any part of their body, especially their genitalia, or particularly if they have recently had a new sexual partner, should limit their contact with others and should contact their GP or GUM clinic without delay if they have concerns. Please phone first ahead of a visit to a healthcare facility. A notable proportion of recent cases in England and Europe have been found in gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men, so the PHA is particularly encouraging them to be alert to the symptoms and seek help if concerned. We can assure them their call will be treated sensitively and confidentially. The PHA has been working with community and voluntary groups including Rainbow to raise awareness of monkeypox symptoms and action to take if you think you have been at risk of exposure.

Clinicians should be alert to individuals presenting with rashes without a clear alternative diagnosis and should contact specialist services for advice.

Find out more about monkeypox at:

The UKHSA said although this advice applies to everyone, the majority of the cases identified to date have been among men who are gay, bisexual and men who have sex with men, so we are asking these people in particular to be aware of the symptoms, particularly if they have recently had a new sexual partner.


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