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In addition to the United States, Canada, and Australia, other European countries, notably the United Kingdom, are conducting investigations into suspected cases of monkeypox, an extremely uncommon and little-known illness.
Over 2,600 confirmed cases have been reported in the United Kingdom in the most recent weeks.
Although infections are typically minor and the risk to the general population is negligible, the government of the United Kingdom has purchased supplies of smallpox vaccine in order to protect its citizens from monkeypox.
More than 100,000 doses of the vaccine have been purchased in an effort to completely eradicate the disease.
How widespread is the monkeypox?
The monkeypox virus is a member of the same family of viruses as the smallpox virus; however, the symptoms of monkeypox are far less severe, and the likelihood of contracting monkeypox is low, according to medical professionals.
The majority of cases are found in inaccessible regions of countries in the center and west of Africa, typically close to tropical rainforests. Since the beginning of the year, there have been more than 1,200 cases of monkeypox reported in certain parts of the country.
There are two primary strains of the virus that are known to exist: the west African strain and the central African strain. The west African strain, which is the less severe of the two, is the one that is currently spreading to other parts of the world.
The virus is currently spreading throughout the population as a result of the exceptionally high number of persons who have been afflicted with monkeypox outside of Africa despite having no travel links to the region.
According to the UK Health Security Agency, anyone who is afraid that they might be infected can call NHS 111 or get in touch with their local sexual health clinic, although they should first call or send an email before going in person.
In addition to this, it is recommended people who have been infected abstain from sexual activity while they are experiencing symptoms and wear condoms for the first eight weeks after infection.
Cases of monkeypox are on the rise as new sex advice is distributed in the UK.
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What exactly is the “monkeypox”?
James Gallagher breaks down what it is and discusses whether or not we ought to be concerned about it.
Currently viewable on the BBC iPlayer
What signs and symptoms are there?
Fever, headaches, swellings, back pain, and aching muscles are the first signs that anything is wrong.
As soon as the fever subsides, a rash may appear. This rash will typically start on the face, but it will eventually extend to other areas of the body, most frequently the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet.
The rash, which can be quite painful or irritating, passes through a series of transitions and stages before finally producing a scab, which eventually peels off. The rash can be exceedingly bothersome. Scarring may develop as a result of the lesions.
The infection will typically go away on its own over a period of time ranging from 14 to 21 days.
How are you supposed to get it?
It is possible for someone to contract monkeypox by coming into close contact with an infected individual. Broken skin, the respiratory tract, or the eyes, nose, or mouth are all potential entry points for the virus into the body.
Although it has not been classified as a sexually transmitted infection in the past, it is possible for it to be passed on through intimate contact.
Anyone infected with the virus should avoid having sexual contact while they are experiencing symptoms, as recommended by guidance.
People who have been diagnosed with monkeypox are encouraged to use condoms for the first eight weeks following infection as a preventative measure, despite the fact that there is no evidence that the virus may be transmitted through sexual fluids at this time.
It is also possible to contract the disease by direct contact with infected animals, such as monkeys, rats, or squirrels, or through the ingestion of contaminated food or materials, such as bedding and clothing.
Monkeypox virus particle
Image caption, Monkeypox virus particle
What kind of hazard does it pose?
The vast majority of people who contract this virus experience only moderate symptoms, which can often be confused with chickenpox, and recover on their own within a few weeks.
However, there are cases in which monkeypox can be far more serious, and it is known to have been responsible for deaths in west Africa.
Are homosexual guys at increased risk?
Although some of the cases have been reported in gay and bisexual males, the virus can possibly spread to anyone who comes into close contact with someone who has monkeypox.
According to the United Kingdom’s Health and Safety Executive (UKHSA), “a notable proportion” of the recent cases in the United Kingdom and Europe have been found in gay and bisexual men. As a result, “we are particularly encouraging them to be alert to the symptoms and seek help if they are concerned,” the UKHSA said.
How common is the occurrence of outbreaks?
Since 1970, there have been reports of intermittent outbreaks of the virus in ten different African countries. The virus was first discovered in a monkey that was kept as a pet.
In 2003, there was an epidemic of the disease in the United States, which was the first time it had been found anywhere other than Africa. Patients contracted the illness via coming into close contact with prairie dogs that were infected with the sickness by small mammals that had been illegally smuggled into the nation. A total of 81 cases were reported, but there were no fatalities associated with any of them.
In 2017, Nigeria was the location of the greatest epidemic ever recorded. There were 172 suspected cases, and men between the ages of 21 and 40 made up 75 percent of the victim population.
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What kind of treatment is it?
Infection prevention is a method that can be used to contain outbreaks.
It has been demonstrated that vaccination against smallpox is 85 percent effective in preventing the disease known as monkeypox.
The United Kingdom has made an investment in the form of tens of thousands of doses of the smallpox vaccine, and some high-risk close contacts of infected individuals will be administered a dose in an effort to lessen the likelihood that they will develop symptoms.
Antiviral medication may also be helpful, and the United Kingdom has given its blessing to the use of tecovirimat for this purpose.
Should members of the general public be worried?
Teams charged with public health protection are reaching out to those who have had close contact with confirmed cases and are considered to be at high risk. They are consulting with them and keeping an eye on them.
They are recommending that everyone else who has had intimate contact with an infected person with monkeypox spend up to 21 days in isolation at their own homes.
The UK Health and Social Care Act and the World Health Organization are the sources.