106 cases of monkeypox confirmed in the UK
Sixteen more cases of monkeypox have been identified in England, health officials said.
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said the new cases bring the England total since May 7 to 101, and the UK total to 106.
There have been three confirmed cases in Scotland, one in Wales and one in Northern Ireland.
People with unusual rashes or lesions, particularly if they have had a new sexual partner, have been urged to limit their contact with others and contact NHS 111 or their local sexual health clinic.
#Monkeypox Anyone with unusual rashes or lesions on any part of their body should contact NHS 111 or call a sexual health service. With recent cases mainly reported in gay and bisexual men, those in this community should be particularly alert. Get the latest updates ⏬
— UK Health Security Agency (@UKHSA) May 23, 2022
Despite the rise in cases, the UKHSA said the risk to the UK population “remains low” as the virus does not spread easily.
Men who are gay or bisexual and men who have sex with men are being urged in particular to be aware of symptoms as the health body said “the majority of the cases identified to date” have been among this group.
Dr Susan Hopkins, UKHSA 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.”
UKHSA teams have been tracing contacts of people with a confirmed case and are advising those at highest risk to isolate at home for up to 21 days.
A smallpox vaccine is being offered to close contacts to reduce their risk of symptoms and severe illness.
The health body is also advising infected people to avoid contact with their pets for 21 days, particularly rodents such as gerbils and hamsters which are susceptible to the disease.
UKHSA guidance recommends pet rodents should be removed from the household of a monkeypox patient for that time period and tested for the virus, due to concerns over animal-to-animal or rodent-to-human transmission.
The first cases of monkeypox in Wales and Northern Ireland were recorded on Thursday, while Scotland confirmed a further two cases.
Almost 200 cases have been reported in over 20 countries not usually known to have outbreaks of the virus, according to the World Health Organisation.