23 May 2022
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has detected 36 additional cases of monkeypox in England.
The latest cases bring the total number of monkeypox cases confirmed in England since 7 May to 56.
The virus does not usually spread easily between people, but it can be passed on through close person to person contact or contact with items used by a person who has monkeypox, such as clothes, bedding or utensils. Monkeypox is usually a self-limiting illness, and most people recover within a few weeks.
Whilst the current outbreak is significant and concerning, the risk to the UK population remains low.
Anyone with unusual rashes or lesions on any part of their body, especially their genitalia, should immediately contact NHS 111 or their local sexual health service.
A notable proportion of cases detected have been in gay and bisexual men and so UKHSA continues to urge this community to be alert to monkeypox symptoms.
People should notify clinics ahead of their visit and can be assured their call or discussion will be treated sensitively and confidentially.
Dr Susan Hopkins, Chief Medical Adviser, UKHSA, said:
“Alongside reports of further cases being identified in other countries globally, we continue to identify additional cases in the UK. Thank you to everyone who has come forward for testing already and supported our contact tracing efforts – you are helping us limit the spread of this infection in the UK.
“Because the virus spreads through close contact, we are urging everyone to be aware of any unusual rashes or lesions and to contact a sexual health service if they have any symptoms.
“A notable proportion of recent cases in the UK and Europe have been found in gay and bisexual men so we are particularly encouraging these men to be alert to the symptoms.”
UKHSA health protection teams are contacting people considered to be high risk contacts of confirmed cases and are advising those who have been risk assessed and remain well to isolate at home for up to 21 days. In addition, UKHSA has purchased supplies of a safe smallpox vaccine and this is being offered to identified close contacts of someone diagnosed with monkeypox to reduce the risk of symptomatic infection and severe illness.
We continue to engage with partners across the sector to ensure people are aware of the signs and symptoms and what action to take.
The vaccination of high-risk contacts of cases is underway. As of 10:00 on 23 May 2022, over 1,000 doses of Imvanex have been issued or are in the process of being issued, to NHS Trusts. There remain over 3,500 doses of Imvanex in the UK.