Virus spreads

First Monkeypox case confirmed in Scotland

Monkeypox symptoms include blister-like sores

The first case of Monkeypox has been confirmed in Scotland and the individual is receiving care and treatment appropriate to their condition. Contact tracing is under way.

Monkeypox is a viral infection usually found in West and Central Africa. The West African strain that has been recently detected in the UK is generally a mild self-limiting illness, spread by very close contact with someone already infected and with symptoms of monkeypox. Most people recover within a few weeks.

Public Health Scotland (PHS) is working with the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), Public Health Wales and Northern Ireland HSC Health Protection Agency to monitor and respond to potential and confirmed cases of monkeypox in the UK.

As of last Friday, the UKHSA identified 20 cases in England but more are expected.

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Dr Nick Phin, Director of Public Health Science and Medical Director, PHS today said: “Public Health Scotland is aware of an individual in Scotland who is confirmed to have monkeypox. The affected individual is being managed and treated in line with nationally agreed protocols and guidance.

“We have well established and robust infection control procedures for dealing with such cases of infectious disease and these will be strictly followed.

“We are working with NHS boards and wider partners in Scotland and the UK to investigate the source of this infection. Close contacts of the case are being identified and provided with health information and advice. This may include the offer of vaccination. The overall risk to the general public is low.

“Anyone with an unusual blister-like rash or small number of blister-like sores on any part of their body, including their genital area, should avoid close contact with others and seek medical advice if they have any concerns.”

Nicola Sturgeon’s Covid adviser last week issued a warning about cases of monkeypox. Professor Devi Sridhar, who is also the chair of global public health at Edinburgh University, said that it was “worrying” that these cases appear not to be originating from the same source.

At the weekend Belgium became the first country to introduce a compulsory 21-day monkeypox quarantine with 14 countries having confirmed outbreaks of the disease.

European countries will be told to prepare a vaccine plan to tackle the outbreak, as global health chiefs consider travel restrictions.

EU health chiefs are publishing a risk assessment today which will advise member states to prepare a programme for rolling out jabs to control the spread.

No monkeypox vaccine exists, but the smallpox vaccine, which was routinely offered to Britons until the virus was eradicated more than four decades ago, is 85% effective at stopping a monkeypox infection.

Those in Belgium who contract the virus will now have to self-isolate for three weeks, Belgian health authorities have said, after three cases were recorded in the country.

The infections, the first of which was recorded on Friday, are all linked to a festival in the port city of Antwerp. 

Symptoms

Initial symptoms of monkey pox include fever or high temperature, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion.

A blister-like rash or small number of blister-like sores can develop, often beginning on the face, then spreading to other parts of the body, including the genital area.

The rash changes and goes through different stages, before finally forming a scab, which typically falls off over the course of a couple of weeks.

Individuals are infectious from the point symptoms start until all the scabs fall off. During this time close contact with others must be avoided.

Treatment 

In rare cases monkeypox patients may be offered antiviral treatment to slow down the spread of the infection and limit the severity of the illness. Their close contacts may be offered Imvanex, a vaccine effective against monkeypox.

Further background on monkeypox

It is not common to get monkeypox from a person with the infection because it does not spread easily between people. But it can be spread through:

  • handling clothing, bedding or towels used by someone with the monkeypox rash
  • touching monkeypox skin lesions or scabs, particularly if your own skin has sores or cuts
  • the coughs or sneezes of a person with the monkeypox rash

Monkeypox can be caught from infected wild animals in parts of west and central Africa. It’s thought to be spread by rodents, such as rats, mice and squirrels.

It is possible to catch monkeypox by eating infected bush meat that has not been cooked thoroughly, or by touching other products from infected bush animals (such as animal skin or fur).

More information on symptoms

If you get infected with monkeypox, it usually takes between 5 and 21 days for the first symptoms to appear.

The first symptoms of monkeypox include:

  • a fever or high temperature
  • a headache
  • muscle aches
  • backache
  • swollen lymph nodes
  • chills
  • exhaustion

A rash usually appears 1 to 5 days after the first symptoms.



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