Health experts suggest monkeypox is ‘containable’ as over 80 cases reported outside of Africa

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The World Health Organization has described the monkeypox outbreak as ‘containable’ as more than 80 cases have been reported outside of Africa.

Monkeypox is a rare virus, which was first spotted in monkeys and is most commonly found in Central and Western Africa. Recently, there has been a surge in cases outside of Africa, with cases recorded in the UK, the US, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain. More than 50 cases had been reported in England by Monday 23rd May and Scotland recorded its first case on the same day.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) issued new guidelines this week encouraging those who have symptoms and their close contacts to isolate for 21 days. Monkeypox doesn’t usually spread easily, but it can be transmitted through close physical contact, including sexual intercourse. Anyone who is at high risk of developing the infection, for example, those who have been exposed to the virus through close contact, should isolate for three weeks. It is particularly important for those who think they have been infected to avoid contact with pregnant women, children under the age of 12 and those with conditions that compromise the immune system.

The WHO and public health experts in the UK have urged people not to panic about rising numbers of monkeypox cases, but this is a situation that governments and health bodies are monitoring closely. Experts have also suggested that those at risk should receive a smallpox vaccine. Many countries have already increased supplies of smallpox vaccines in preparation for a continued rise in cases of monkeypox.

Symptoms of monkeypox include a high temperature and a raised rash, which turns into blisters. Anyone who has these symptoms is encouraged to visit a sexual health clinic, call NHS 111 or seek advice from their GP before leaving their home or seeing other people.

The cases detected in the UK so far have largely affected gay and bisexual men. Alex Sparrowhawk, from Terrence Higgins Trust, said that the charity, which specialises in HIV and sexual health, wants to play a part in raising awareness and providing the community with up-to-date information and advice.