Should we be worried about the recent outbreak of Monkeypox?

The first cases of Monkeypox have officially been confirmed in the UK.

It’s been officially confirmed that Monkeypox infections have arrived in the UK, with the rare African disease being diagnosed to two unrelated cases.

The fever spreads primarily through monkeys to humans, by the bite of an infected tick and through contact with a sick or dead monkey.

Typically found in western and central areas of Africa, the disease has managed to make its way over to Britain – and is causing a minor health scare.

The bug, which is in the similar strain as the smallpox virus, can be deadly in very extreme cases – is currently predicted to have a fatality rate of 10 per cent cases across the globe.

However, the infected individuals (both of which had visited Nigeria before contracting the disease) have been transferred to the Royal Liverpool University Hospital and Royal Free Hospital in London for treatment.

There is also no evidence that the two individuals transferred the disease to other people, so it is by no means a pandemic.

Dr Nick Phin of the National Infection Service at PHE, has also assured concerned members of the public that it is by no means time to panic.

‘It is important to emphasise that monkeypox does not spread easily between people and the overall risk to the general public is very low.’

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It’s understood that the virus symptoms begin to present themselves between five and 21 days following exposure, and can continue for over two weeks.

The symptoms are very similar to that of smallpox – those exposed to the virus typically break out in blisters or with pustules which erupt on the skin.

Initially, the first red flag signs of the disease are similar symptoms to the flu. This includes a fever,  muscle aches, back aches, headaches and swollen lymph nodes, along with chills and exhaustion. Other identifying signs of a Monkeypox infection include a rash.

However, infection can generally be avoided with the administration of the smallpox vaccine. And, in the majority of cases, the disease will also go away on its own.

Dr Michael Jacobs, clinical director of infection at the Royal Free Hospital, said: ‘Monkeypox is, in most cases, a mild condition which will resolve on its own and have no long-term effects on a person’s health.’

Even though the risk of contraction is very low, you can always reduce your own risk of contracting any type of flu by keeping personal hygiene to a good standard and avoiding contact with those who are feeling unwell.

Words by Alice-Rose Perry