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Monkeypox designated a ‘notifiable disease’ in England as outbreak worsens – UKHSA

Monkeypox: Dr Chris outlines the main symptoms

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Monkeypox has become a notifiable disease in England, meaning all medics must alert local health authorities to suspected cases. The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said laboratories must also tell it if the virus is identified in a sample. It comes after 302 cases of the viral infection were confirmed in the UK on Monday.

Wendi Shepherd, monkeypox incident director at 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.

“It also 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, whilst offering vaccinations where appropriate to limit onward transmission.”

David Heymann, professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), said: “Making monkeypox a notifiable disease suggests a desire to be sure to have reporting from all sectors (public and private) and all parts of the NHS.

“It suggests that the Government wants to focus surveillance on the entire population – not only on the risk groups identified so far.

“This will permit clear identification of all risk groups and help better understand the epidemiology and extent of spread.”

What we know so far about transmission

A large proportion of cases so far have been identified in the gay, bisexual and men who have sex with other men community.

Monkeypox is not normally a sexually-transmitted infection, but it can be passed on by direct contact during sex.

“Anyone can get monkeypox, particularly if you have had close contact, including sexual contact, with an individual with symptoms,” explains UKHSA.

Although, “people who are gay or bisexual and men who have sex with men remain disproportionately affected”, notes the health organisation.

Although more people have been diagnosed with it recently, only a small number of people in the UK have had monkeypox and the risk remains low, notes the NHS.

You’re “extremely unlikely” to have monkeypox if you haven’t been in close contact (such as touching their skin or sharing bedding) with someone who has monkeypox or has monkeypox symptoms, adds the health body.

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