Monkeypox UK symptoms LIVE: Britain's infections hit 106 as contagious virus sees NHS 111 'overloaded' by PANIC calls

MULTIPLE scientists and studies have warned about the monkeypox virus for years as the alarm was first raised in 2018.

A British scientist at a level four biosecurity lab – Porton Down, which works with smallpox-like viruses – first warned about its epidemic-causing potential four years ago.

They warned how the emergence of monkeypox could have 'potentially devastating consequences' for the majority of the world's population.

At least three people in the South West have been vaccinated against monkeypox following close contact with an infected person as UK cases hit 106.

Two people from Exeter and one person in Bristol received a smallpox vaccine after potential exposure to the virus.

The World Health Organization has warned that 200 monkeypox cases found in recent weeks outside countries where the virus usually circulates could be just the beginning.

Sylvie Briand, WHO’s epidemic and pandemic preparedness and prevention chief said: “We don’t know if we are just seeing the peak of the iceberg [or] if there are many more cases that are undetected in communities.”

Here are the five crucial warnings that were missed: 

  1. September 2018: Porton Down scientist warns of potential 'devastating consequences' of monkeypox 
  2. June 2019: A coalition of experts met at Chatham House in London to discuss how monkeypox 'might fill the epidemiological niche vacated by smallpox'. They warned 70% of world is vulnerable to monkeypox
  3. September 2020: Two years ago, a paper published by the WHO warned the 'epidemic potential' of monkeypox was increasing.
  4. November 2021: Monkeypox pandemic model warns virus could kill 300million in about 18 months.
  5. February 2022: Scientists say monkeypox is a disease in 'resurgence' in a research review in the Neglected Tropical Diseases journal. It was published just a few months before the current outbreak

Read our Monkeypox blog below for the latest news and updates…

  • Joseph Gamp

    Argentina confirms South America's first monkeypox cases

    Argentina confirmed the first two cases of monkeypox in Latin America on Friday, the Ministry of Health said in statements.

    Spain, England and Portugal are the countries with the most cases in the recent outbreak of this usually mild viral disease outside their endemic areas, normally found in parts of West and Central Africa.

    "The outcome of the PCR result of the case in question is positive," the Health Ministry said about Argentina's first case, adding that the patient is in good health and people who were in close contact with the individual were under clinical and epidemiological control, with no symptoms so far.

    Later in the afternoon, the ministry confirmed another case, of a Spanish citizen who arrived in Argentina on Wednesday and began to develop ulcerous lesions the next day.

    "The patient is in good general condition, isolated and receiving symptomatic treatment," the ministry said.

    Most of the reported infections around the world so far have not been serious. Many, but not all, the people who have been diagnosed in the current monkeypox outbreak have been men who have sex with men. Symptoms include fever and a rash.

    Around 20 countries where monkeypox is not endemic have reported outbreaks of the viral disease, with more than 200 confirmed or suspected infections, mostly in Europe.

  • Joseph Gamp

    Holiday warning as monkeypox hits favourite UK summer destination

    A BRITISH tourist staying at a favourite holiday hotspot in Spain is being tested for monkeypox.

    Health chiefs in the region confirmed the holidaymaker on the Canary Island of Fuerteventura was one of five suspected new cases currently being analysed.

    The age of the unnamed man, thought to be the first British tourist in Spain affected since the country announced its first cases last week, has not been revealed.

    A spokesman for the Canary Islands’ Health Service confirmed in a short statement: “A suspected case of monkeypox in Fuerteventura corresponds to a British tourist.”

    It is not yet known when they will confirm whether he has the disease.

    Authorities have not said if he is holidaying alone on the island or relaxing with relatives who are also being tested.

    Spain has so far confirmed around 40 cases of monkeypox and said another 67 people are being tested.

  • Joseph Gamp

    Ireland confirms its first case of monkeypox

    Ireland has confirmed its first case of monkeypox, the country's health agency said on Saturday.

    A separate suspected case is also being investigated and test results are awaited, the Health Service Executive (HSE) said in a statement.

    Around 20 countries where monkeypox is not endemic have reported outbreaks of the viral disease, with more than 200 confirmed or suspected infections mostly in Europe.

  • Louis Allwood

    Cases advised to self-isolate at home for three weeks

    Teams from the UKHSA have been contacting high-risk contacts of confirmed cases and are advising them to self-isolate at home for three weeks and avoid contact with children.

    Both confirmed cases and close contacts are being offered the Imvanex vaccine to form a buffer of immune people around a confirmed case to limit the spread of the disease.

    Dr Susan Hopkins, the UKHSA's chief medical adviser, said: “We are continuing to promptly identify further monkeypox cases in England through our extensive surveillance and contact tracing networks, our vigilant NHS services, and thanks to people coming forward with symptoms.

    "We are asking people to look out for new spots, ulcers or blisters on any part of their body. 

    “If anyone suspects they might have these, particularly if they have recently had a new sexual partner, they should limit their contact with others and contact NHS 111 or their local sexual health service as soon as possible, though please phone ahead before attending in person.”

  • Louis Allwood

    Is monkeypox deadly?

    Monkeypox comes from the same family of viruses as smallpox but is much less severe.

    No deaths have been reported from the 2022 outbreak of the disease in the UK.

    The chance of catching monkeypox in the UK is very low as cases are rare.

    Cases have been linked to some festivals in Europe.

    According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) up to a tenth of people who contract the virus may die but this is mainly in younger age groups.

    The majority of those who catch monkeypox will survive.

  • Louis Allwood

    Officials confident outbreak will not reach the levels of covid

    Officials are confident that the outbreak will not reach the levels of covid, believing that the risk to the public is low. 

    But they have urged Brits, especially gay and bisexual men, to be on the look out for any new rashes or lesions.  

    Teams from the UKHSA have been contacting high-risk contacts of confirmed cases and are advising them to self-isolate at home for three weeks and avoid contact with children.

    Both confirmed cases and close contacts are being offered the Imvanex vaccine to form a buffer of immune people around a confirmed case to limit the spread of the disease.

  • Louis Allwood

    How long is the incubation period?

    The virus has an incubation period of up to 21 days, which means it can take three weeks for symptoms to appear.

    They include suffering from a fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion.

    A rash can develop, often beginning on the face, which then spreads to other parts of the body — including the genitals. 

    Health officials are planning on isolating infected people's pets in an attempt to stop the outbreak. 

  • Louis Allwood

    Where has Monkeypox come from?

    Monkeypox is a rare viral infection which is endemic in remote parts of Central and West Africa.

    But outbreaks in Britain, Portugal, Spain and the United States, have triggered alarm among public health experts.

    According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the name monkeypox originates from the initial discovery of the virus in monkeys in a Danish laboratory in 1958.

    The first human case was identified in a child in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1970.

  • Louis Allwood

    Explained: How to treat monkeypox

    Monkeypox symptoms last between two and four weeks. There is no treatment for it – it gets better on its own.

    There are no specific vaccines available for monkeypox, either.

    But outbreaks can be controlled using contact tracing.

    A vaccine developed for smallpox – which was declared eradicated in 1980 – is also licensed for monkeypox.

    This jab has been proven to be 85 per cent effective in preventing monkeypox. However, most people in the UK will not be vaccinated against smallpox given that it is no longer in circulation.

    The Government has stocks of the smallpox vaccine which is being offered to very close contacts of those affected. These people also have to isolate for 21 days.

  • Louis Allwood

    If you catch it, ‘isolation is the most effective measure’

    Dr Carlos Maluquer de Motes, Reader in Molecular Virology, University of Surrey, said: “Isolation is one of the most effective measures to contain the spread of a disease, particularly a viral disease, because it limits the number of susceptible individuals that can be exposed to the virus.

    “Isolation of confirmed cases and the identification and vaccination of all their close contacts creates a circle of protected people around a positive case that is very effective in breaking chains of transmission.

    “This ‘ring vaccination’ strategy was successfully used to eradicate smallpox, so it is a proven strategy to contain poxvirus disease.”

  • Louis Allwood

    Brits are ‘overloading’ NHS 111 ‘because anyone who gets a rash’

    Brits are swamping the NHS over fears that their rash might be linked to the monkeypox outbreak. 

    Health chiefs are urging those who are worried they are suffering from the virus to contact sexual health clinics rather than bombarding 111. 

    Head of the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) Mateo Prochazka wants staff to be able to focus on handling other health queries. 

    Mr Prochazka told The Daily Telegraph: “Sexual health clinics are not just for gay and bisexual men.

    "Anyone can be seen in a sexual health clinic, regardless of gender, sexual orientation or identity. Everyone is welcome.

    “There are other potential routes of trying to get yourself into the system, maybe calling NHS 111, but this resource has been really overloaded with everyone calling who had a rash.”

  • Louis Allwood

    The signs of monkeypox you need to know

    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.

    At first it can look like chickenpox, before bumps become raised and filled with pus.

    These lesions finally form a scab, which later falls off.

    Loved pets may have to be PUT DOWN to control spread on monkeypox

    Pet gerbils and hamsters can catch monkeypox and may have to be put down to control its spread, health chiefs have warned.

    They said the rodents must be quarantined in a lab for three weeks if a person in their home catches the virus.

    But the creatures may have to be killed as a last resort.

    If pets pass it to other animals, it could spread out of control.

    Cats, dogs and rabbits are lower risk but should be isolated at home and have regular vet checks, the UK Health Security Agency said.

    Yesterday 16 more human UK cases were reported, taking the total to 106 — with 101 of them in England.

    Monkeypox outbreak could be just ‘the peak of the iceberg’

    The World Health Organization has warned that 200 monkeypox cases found in recent weeks outside countries where the virus usually circulates could be just the beginning.

    Sylvie Briand, WHO’s epidemic and pandemic preparedness and prevention chief said: “We don’t know if we are just seeing the peak of the iceberg [or] if there are many more cases that are undetected in communities.”

    Monkeypox is related to smallpox, a deadly disease that was eradicated in 1980.

    ‘I survived the last US monkeypox outbreak – here are the warning symptoms’

    A MONKEYPOX survivor is sharing his experience with the virus as an increasing number of states report suspected cases.

    Cases have now been confirmed in the US, United Kingdom, Portugal, and Italy, while potential cases are being investigated in Canada and Spain.

    Nearly 20 years ago, Wisconsin had its own outbreak and the new cases hold painful memories for survivor Dr Kurt Zaeske.

    Back in 2003, he was a veterinarian who came in contact with the virus from a prairie dog he was treating.

    “Within about 48 hours of my handling that specimen, I became ill,” he told local news outlet WISN.

    “I started developing a blister on my thumb that didn’t look right, didn’t act right,” he said back in 2003, after being quarantined for two weeks.

    Read the article in full here.

    • Joseph Gamp

      The UK’s small outbreak of Monkeypox

      THE UK has seen a small outbreak of monkeypox – but many people still don’t know much about the virus.

      The mystery outbreaks, starting in May 2022, are concerning health leaders. However, the threat to the public is still considered low.

      While monkeypox is a mild illness which gets better with time, in very rare cases it can lead to death. About six per cent of cases are fatal, the World Health Organization (WHO) says.

      One world health leader has said sex occurring at two raves in Europe could be behind the mystery monkeypox outbreaks. 

      Professor David Heymann, who formerly headed WHO’s emergencies department, said the leading theory “was sexual transmission among gay and bisexual men at two raves held in Spain and Belgium”, AP reported.

      Dr Heymann said it is one hypothesis among many, and added it’s known that monkeypox can spread when there is close contact with the lesions of someone who is infected, “and it looks like sexual contact has now amplified that transmission”.

      Monkeypox is not known as a sexually transmitted infection (STI), but it can be passed on by direct contact during sex, possibly through contaminated items such as bed linen, clothing and towels.

    • Joseph Gamp

      Monkeypox can be contained ‘if we act now’ says WHO

      Countries should take quick steps to contain the spread of monkeypox and share data about their vaccine stockpiles, a senior World Health Organization official said on Friday.

      “We think that if we put in place the right measures now we probably can contain this easily,” Sylvie Briand, WHO director for Global Infectious Hazard Preparedness, told the U.N. agency’s annual assembly.

      “For us, we think that the key priority currently is trying to contain this transmission in non-endemic countries,” Briand told a technical briefing for member states.

      “We don’t know exactly the number of doses available in the world and so that’s why we encourage countries to come to WHO and tell us what are their stockpiles,” she said.

    • Joseph Gamp

      Overall risk to population ‘remains low’ says UKHSA

      Despite the rise in cases, the UKHSA has said the risk to the overall UK population “remains low”.

      Gay, bisexual and men who have sex with men are being urged in particular to be aware of symptoms, especially if they have recently had a new sexual partner.

      UKHSA teams have been tracing contacts of those with a confirmed case and are advising those at highest risk to isolate for 21 days.

      A smallpox vaccine is also being offered to close contacts to reduce their risk of symptoms and severe illness.

    • Joseph Gamp

      Expert warning monkeypox could become ‘permanent’ if PETS get it

      EXPERTS have warned monkeypox could become permanent in Europe if pets start catching it too.

      There have still not been any reports of monkeypox in pets, but in a rapid risk assessment on Monday, the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) said it was important to “manage exposed pets and prevent the disease from being transmitted to wildlife”.

      Issuing the update, the ECDC said: “If human-to-animal transmission occurs, and the virus spreads in an animal population, there is a risk that the disease could become endemic in Europe.

      “Rodents, and particularly species of the family of Sciuridae (squirrels) are likely to be suitable hosts, more so than humans, and transmission from humans to (pet) animals is theoretically possible.

      “Such a spill-over event could potentially lead to the virus establishing in European wildlife and the disease becoming an endemic zoonosis. The probability of this spill-over event is very low.”

      Prof David Robertson, of the Glasgow Centre for Virus Research, told the Telegraph this was a “valid concern”.

      He said: “It would seem sensible to monitor any animals/pets that infected people are in contact with.”

      Experts believe rodents, such as rats and squirrels, can harbour the virus but the full range of animals at risk is not yet known.

    • Joseph Gamp

      Explained: What is the UKHSA public health advice?

      The NHS suggests that it is rare that anyone in the UK who has not been in contact with an infected person or travelled to Africa recently will have the virus.

      If you are infected you should isolate and inform the NHS.

      Nevertheless, they suggest washing your hands regularly with soap or hand sanitiser and only eating meat which has been fully cooked.

      They also have a list of things to avoid:

      • Avoid wild or stray animals, including dead animals
      • Avoid any animals that appear unwell
      • Do not eat or touch meat from wild animals (bush meat)
      • Do not share bedding or towels with people who are unwell and may have monkeypox
      • Do not have close contact with people who are unwell and may have monkeypox

      Argentina reports Latin America’s first confirmed monkeypox case

      Argentina reported Latin America’s first confirmed case of the monkeypox virus on Friday in a man who recently traveled to Spain.

      The man, who is from the province of Buenos Aires, has monkeypox but health authorities are waiting to finish sequencing the virus before making the official announcement, said an official in Argentinas Health Ministry.

      The official requested anonymity until the official announcement.

      It is the first time the presence of the virus has been confirmed in Latin America.

      Authorities have revealed little about the patient beyond saying he traveled to Spain from April 28 and remained there until May 16.

      They confirmed the man displayed symptoms associated with monkeypox – including lesions and a fever – on Sunday.

      • Joseph Gamp

        Italy’s monkeypox infections rise to 12

        Italy’s health ministry said on Friday the nation’s total monkeypox cases had risen to 12, while one was still under scrutiny.

        Several other cases of monkeypox have recently been reported in countries outside of Africa, where most infections had been detected so far.

      • Joseph Gamp

        Spain’s Monkeypox tally rises to 84

        Spanish health authorities have today reported 25 new cases of monkeypox.

        The new figure brings the total tally of infections in one of the main hot spots of the recent outbreak to 84.

        The Health Ministry, which now considers all non-human-origin pox infections as monkeypox after a positive test while before only counting those confirmed by sequencing, also said there were 73 suspected cases.

        Minister of Health Carolina Darias on Wednesday said Spain would buy monkeypox vaccines as part of the EU joint vaccine purchases and confirmed that the west African strain, which has a fatality rate in about 1% of cases, was the one detected in Spain.

        Spain, England and Portugal are the countries with the most cases in the recent outbreak of the usually mild viral disease outside its endemic areas in parts of west and central Africa.

      • Joseph Gamp

        Monkeypox patients could be infectious WEEKS after recovery

        SEVERE monkeypox patients may be infectious for up to ten weeks, scientists fear.

        An investigation of previous patients who had the disease found one man tested positive more than 70 days after he first showed symptoms.

        It comes as cases of the virus reach 71 in the UK, and health officials have urged people to stay alert to symptoms.

        Signs of the disease in the early stages include fever, headache, chills, back and muscle aches.

        Patients are contagious until their scabs fall off, the UK Health and Security Agency (UKHSA) says, and the scabs themselves can contain viral material.

        However, the latest study, published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, suggests people may be infectious long after their rash has settled.

        Study author Dr Hugh Adler, from the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, said: “It remains positive in the throat and blood for the length of the illness and maybe even longer after the rash is resolved. 

        “We don’t know that this means these patients are more infectious or infectious for longer, but it does inform us of the biology of disease.”

      • Joseph Gamp

        16 new cases detected in England, UK total now 106

        A further 16 cases of monkeypox have been detected in England, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said.

        The latest cases bring the total number confirmed in England since May 7 to 101.

        There have been three confirmed cases in Scotland, one in Wales and one in Northern Ireland, taking the UK total to 106.

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