Monkeypox: What ‘may have opened the door’ to the outbreak, according to an expert

Monkeypox: UK patient discusses his symptoms

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On the origins of monkeypox, Dr Babak said: “While we think the recent infections we see in the UK and the rest of the world came from travellers in Africa, we know some of the cases we’ve seen have been spread by people not having been there.

“Investigations are ongoing as to how the virus is spreading and what started the outbreak in the first place.”

While there is no evidence to suggest COVID-19 is linked to monkeypox Dr Babak said “the relaxation of lockdown and return to international travel may have opened the door again to transmitting new infections”.

However, this doesn’t mean the UK should close its borders once more; unlike COVID-19, monkeypox is far less transmissible.

Dr Babak said: “Unlike Covid, it is primarily passed on by physical contact with infectious sores, scabs, or body fluids.

“So far, infection rates have remained under control, with cases only transmitted within households or through other types of close contact like sex.”

As a result, the risk of becoming infected with monkeypox is low, especially for those who have not come into contact with an infected patient.

Furthermore, people are far less likely to die from monkeypox than COVID-19.

Nevertheless, Dr Babak has advice for those worried about becoming infected: “In the unlikely circumstance that you do contract monkeypox, the chances are that symptoms will be very mild, and the infection will last only a few weeks, even without treatment.

“However, it can be an unpleasant condition, and taking sensible steps to protect yourself may be advisable, particularly if you have been to a country where monkeypox is more common, or if you have a weakened immune system as an infection could cause more severe complications.”

Symptoms of monkeypox include:
• A rash
• High temperature
• Headache
• Muscle aches
• Backache
• Swollen glands
• Shivering
• Exhaustion.

The next question is what the government should do, what actions it should take.

So far, due to the low number of cases, the government hasn’t felt the need to take major actions.

However, this hasn’t stopped the UKHSA (United Kingdom Health Security Agency) from advising patients to self-isolate for three weeks after diagnosis.

Furthermore, England has now made it a legal requirement for doctors to notify their local councils or health protection team about suspected monkeypox cases.

In a statement Wendi Shepherd of the UKHSA said: “Rapid diagnosis and reporting is the key to interrupting transmission and containing any further spread of monkeypox.

“This new legislation will support us and our health partners to swiftly identify, treat, and control the disease.”

Shepherd added the new law “supports us with the swift collection and analysis of data, which enables us to detect possible outbreaks of the disease and trace close contacts rapidly”.

As the nation heads further into summer, the UK is keeping its key firmly on monkeypox after learning lessons from the early handling of COVID-19.

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