While the world is yet to fully recover from the impact of COVID-19 pandemic, a new kind of virus is giving sleepless nights to health officials. The virus, which is transmitted to humans from animals, has made its presence felt with the total number of infections in the United Kingdom going up to seven since the first case emerged earlier this year.
Gay, Bisexual Men Asked To Be Alert
Gay and bisexual men are being urged to be alert to unusual rashes or lesions as the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has said that all of the new cases self-identify as gay, bisexual or other men who have sex with men (MSM). Out of four new cases, three are in London and one in the north east of England.
“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,” said Dr Susan Hopkins, UKHSA Chief Medical Adviser.
“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,” she said, adding that potential close contacts of the seven known cases are being contacted to provide health information and advice.
What Is Monkeypox
Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with monkeypox virus. According to CDC. it was first discovered in 1958 when two outbreaks of a pox-like disease occurred in areas of monkeys kept for research. This is why it was named ‘monkeypox’. The first human case of monkeypox was recorded in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Since then, monkeypox has been reported in people in several other central and western African countries
The viral infection is usually a mild self-limiting illness, spread by very close contact with someone with monkeypox and most people recover within a few weeks.
“The virus does not spread easily between people and the risk to the UK population is low. However, the most recent cases are in gay, bisexual and other MSM communities, and as the virus spreads through close contact, we are advising these groups to be alert to any unusual rashes or lesions on any part of their body, especially their genitalia, and to contact a sexual health service if they have concerns,” the UKHSA said.
The health authorities are urging anyone with concerns that they could be infected with monkeypox to make contact with clinics ahead of their visit, reiterating that their discussion will be treated “sensitively and confidentially”.
A rash can develop, often beginning on the face, then spreading to other parts of the body including the genitals. The rash changes and goes through different stages, and can look like chickenpox or syphilis, before finally forming a scab, which later falls off.