By Kafeero Twaha
Saturday May 21 2022 at 1444 EAT
Monkeypox virus particle – [IMAGE SOURCE: SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY]
Health Experts in the United Kingdom have warned gay and bisexual men to be on the lookout for the monkeypox virus.
This comes after the most recent UK cases occurred in gay or bisexual men which prompted the UK Health Security Agency to encourage men who have sex with men to be aware of any unusual rashes or lesions.
According to the Daily Mail, most new patients are gay or bisexual men who have no travel links with Africa.
Dr Susan Hopkins, the chief medical adviser at the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), said:
‘This is rare and unusual.
‘UKHSA is rapidly investigating the source of these infections because the evidence suggests that there may be transmission of the monkeypox virus in the community, spread by close contact.
‘We are particularly urging men who are gay and bisexual to be aware of any unusual rashes or lesions and to contact a sexual health service without delay.’
In another warning issued on Wednesday, the UKHSA said
“Monkeypox has not previously been described as a sexually transmitted infection, though it can be passed on by direct contact during sex.
“It can also be passed on through other close contact with a person who has monkeypox or contact with clothing or linens used by a person who has monkeypox.”
The World Health Organisation (WHO) also expressed concern over the matter. Ibrahima Soce Fall, assistant director general for emergency response at the WHO, said
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“We are seeing transmission among men having sex with men.”
Symptoms of the monkeypox virus are shown on a patient’s hand, from a 2003 case in the United States. In most instances, the disease causes fever and painful, pus-filled blisters. New cases in the United Kingdom, Spain and Portugal are spreading possibly through sexual contact, which had not previously been linked to monkeypox transmission.
As of Friday, more than 85 cases of monkeypox have been reported in 11 countries across Europe and North America and in Australia.
However, the viral disease is commonly associated with central and western Africa.
Here is what you need to know about Monkey Pox.
What is Monkeypox?
Monkeypox is a rare viral disease that belongs to the family of poxviruses, which includes smallpox. The disease is usually associated with travel to West Africa.
There are two main variants – the Congo strain, which is more severe and kills around 10 per cent of people it strikes, and the milder West African strain, which has a fatality rate of about 1 per cent.
Where Does The Name Come From?
The disease got its name after scientists discovered it among laboratory monkeys in 1958.
The first monkeypox case in a human was diagnosed in 1970 in the Democratic Republic Of Congo. Human cases were recorded for the first time in the US in 2003 and in the UK in September 2018.
How Do You Get Monkeypox?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you can catch monkeypox through direct contact with infected animals, such as handling monkeys or eating inadequately cooked meat.
The virus can enter the body through broken skin, the respiratory tract, eyes, nose or mouth.
The virus is transmitted via respiratory droplets during prolonged face-to-face contact or bodily fluids.
Many of the newly identified cases in Europe are among men who have sex with men, but monkeypox is not considered a sexually transmitted infection.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Monkeypox?
If you get infected with monkeypox, it usually takes between five and 21 days for the first symptoms to appear. These include fever, headache, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills and fatigue.
The most obvious symptom is a rash, which usually appears on the face before spreading to other parts of the body. This then forms skin lesions that scab and fall off.
Monkeypox is usually mild, with most patients recovering within a few weeks without treatment.
However, the disease can be more severe and even fatal, especially in young children, pregnant women, and people who have weakened immune systems.
Is There A Treatment For The Monkeypox Virus?
According to the CDC, at this time, there are no specific treatments available for monkeypox, but monkeypox outbreaks can be controlled.
However, because the monkeypox virus is closely related to the virus that causes smallpox, the smallpox vaccine can also protect people from getting monkeypox.
Data from Africa suggests that the smallpox vaccine is at least 85% effective in preventing monkeypox.