Britain urges people with monkeypox to abstain from sex as cases rise

Test tubes labeled “Monkeypox virus positive and negative” can be seen in this image, taken May 23, 2022.

Dado Ruvic | Reuters

UK health authorities have urged anyone who tests positive for the monkeypox virus to abstain from sex until their symptoms have resolved.

in new guidance released Mondaythe UK Health Security Agency also recommended that previously infected individuals continue to use condoms for a period of eight weeks after the virus has cleared, as a precautionary measure.

The health service said risks to the general public remain low but encouraged people to contact a health professional if they notice any unusual skin rashes or lesions.

The advice comes after Britain introduced an extra 71 cases of the virus over the weekend, bringing the UK total to 179, less than a month after the first case occurred May 7

The UK now has the highest number of monkey pox cases among non-endemic countries, followed by Spain with 120 and Portugal with 96

From Monday there were 555 confirmed and suspected cases of monkeypox in countries outside of Africa, according to Our World in Data.

Increasing Risks of Sexual Transmission

Monkeypox is a rare infectious disease that usually occurs in Central and West African countries. Symptoms include skin rash, fever, headache, muscle aches, swelling and back pain

While the virus is generally mild and usually clears up on its own within two to four weeks, health experts have expressed concern about the recent spike in cases in countries where monkeypox usually doesn’t spread, and the growing risks of community transmission.

Most cases so far are spread by sexwith a particular concentration of cases occurring within the gay and bisexual communities and men who have sex with men, according to the World Health Organization.

A section of skin tissue harvested from a lesion on the skin of a monkey infected with monkeypox virus is seen at 50x magnification on day four of skin rash development in 1968.

CDC | Reuters

The public health agency said on Monday it was not yet clear whether the recent outbreak could lead to a… global pandemic but said there is currently a chance to curb rising cases.

“Collectively, the world has a chance to stop this outbreak. There is a window,” Rosamund Lewis, WHO’s technical lead for monkey pox, said at a briefing.

The WHO also said it is currently considering whether the outbreak should be assessed as a: “potential public health emergency of international concern.” Such a statement was made for the Covid-19 and Ebola outbreaks and would allow for additional research and funding to contain the disease, it noted.

What to do if you get monkey pox?

If you suspect that you have contracted monkeypox, you should isolate yourself from physical contact with others and seek medical advice immediately.

First symptoms of monkey pox include: fever, headache, muscle aches, swelling and back pain† Rashes and lesions usually appear on the face, hands, feet, eyes, mouth, or inside genitals one to five days† That rash turns into raised bumps and then blisters, which can fill with white fluid before breaking and crusting over.

However, many of the virus’s symptoms can be easily confused with other illnesses, such as chickenpox, herpes, or syphilis, so medical confirmation is important.

If you’ve been diagnosed with monkey pox, the UK guidelines is that you have to isolate until the virus is gone. Close contacts of someone with monkey pox may also be assessed for risk and asked to isolate for 21 days.

The illness is usually mild and most people recover within two to four weeks. While medical advice currently varies from country to country, the UK’s National Health Service notes that: you may need to stay in a specialized hospital to prevent the infection from spreading to other people.

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