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UK reports 11 more cases of Monkeypox, virus spreading faster in gay and bisexual community

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UK health authorities are urging the gay and bisexual men in particular to be on a alert after a notable proportion of early Monkeypox cases detected have been found in the community (Image courtesy: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has detected 11 additional cases of monkeypox in England. The latest cases bring the total number of monkeypox cases confirmed in England since 6 May to 20.

The infection can be passed on through close contact or contact with clothing or linens used by a person who has monkeypox.

However, the virus does not usually spread easily between people and the risk to the population remains low.

The health authorities stressed that anyone with unusual rashes or lesions on any part of their body, especially their genitalia, should contact the National Health Service.

"We continue to engage with partners across the sector at pace to deliver training webinars about monkeypox to clinicians to increase knowledge and awareness of this infection which is unusual in clinical settings in the UK. The first of these was hosted earlier this week by British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) and was attended by over 900 people," said the UK health ministry on Friday.

It revealed that a notable proportion of early cases detected have been in gay and bisexual men which is why UKHSA is urging this community in particular to be alert.

"People should notify clinics ahead of their visit and can be assured their call or discussion will be treated sensitively and confidentially," it said.

Monkeypox is usually a mild self-limiting illness, spread by very close contact with someone with monkeypox and most people recover within a few weeks.

"We anticipated that further cases would be detected through our active case finding with NHS services and heightened vigilance among healthcare professionals. We expect this increase to continue in the coming days and for more cases to be identified in the wider community. Alongside this we are receiving reports of further cases being identified in other countries globally," said Dr Susan Hopkins, Chief Medical Adviser, UKHSA.

Monkeypox

"A notable proportion of recent cases in the UK and Europe have been found in gay and bisexual men so we are particularly encouraging them to be alert to the symptoms and seek help if concerned," Hopkins added.

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.

Also Read: Monkeypox cases confirmed in England - What are the symptoms?