Monkeypox appears to be spreading in the UK. UKHSA health chief Susan Hopkins told the BBC on Sunday that she was seeing new cases every day. Hopkins declined to give more precise numbers. Her authority will publish new figures this Monday, she announced. So far, 20 cases are known from Britain.
Vaccination with smallpox vaccine
“We are discovering more cases every day and I want to thank all the people who are reaching out to sexual health clinics, general practitioners and emergency rooms for testing,” Hopkins said. The virus is mainly transmitted in urban areas, with no cases showing a connection to West or Central Africa, where the infection is otherwise observed.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), most, though not exclusively, gay and bisexual men are currently affected. “We encourage anyone who regularly switches sex partners or is in close contact with people they don’t know to talk if they develop a rash,” Hopkins said.
Those infected can be vaccinated with a smallpox vaccine, said the head of the UK Health Safety Agency (UKHSA). “We use it in individuals who we believe are at high risk of developing symptoms,” Hopkins said. “We use it early on, specifically within four or five days after symptoms develop.” This avoids the risk of illness for people in contact.