Further 71 monkeypox cases identified in England taking UK total to 179

30 May 2022, 18:45 | Updated: 31 May 2022, 00:59

Monkeypox cases have increased in England
Monkeypox cases have increased in England. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

A further 71 monkeypox cases have been detected in England, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has said.

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The latest cases, as of 29 May, bring the total number confirmed in England since 7 May to 172.

There are currently four confirmed cases in Scotland, two in Northern Ireland and one in Wales, taking the UK total to 179.

The figures come after the UKHSA, as well as authorities in the devolved nations, issued joint guidance to stem the spread of the disease.

People have been asked to be aware of any new rashes or lesions - which would appear like spots, ulcers or blisters - on any part of their body.

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Meanwhile, those with the disease have been urged to avoid close contact with others until their lesions have healed and any scabs have dried off.

People who have had contact with someone with the disease should also be risk assessed and may be told to isolate for 21 days if necessary.

The guidance, updated on Monday, said people with suspected or confirmed monkeypox who need to travel in order to seek health care should make sure any lesions are covered by clothing, wear a face covering, and avoid public transport where possible.

They should also abstain from sex from the first signs of symptoms and through the early stages and make sure to use condoms for eight weeks after infection.

Although the advice applies to everyone, the majority of the cases identified to date have been among men who are gay, bisexual and men who have sex with men, the UKHSA said.

However, experts have reiterated the risk to the public is still low.

Monkeypox is not a 'gay disease',

Dr Ruth Milton, senior medical advisor at UKHSA, said: "We are continuing to work closely with our colleagues in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to ensure we are aligned in our approach to reducing the risk of transmission of monkeypox in the UK.

"We are reminding 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.

"This will help us to limit the virus being passed on."

The disease, first found in monkeys, can be transmitted from person to person through close physical contact, including sexual intercourse, and is caused by the monkeypox virus.

The virus is usually found in west and central Africa.

Symptoms are generally mild and the illness is spread through close contact with someone already infected.

Most people recover within a few weeks.