Monkeypox outbreak: UK health experts warn gay, bisexual men against the virus

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 close contact with a person who has monkeypox or contact with clothing or linens used by a person who has monkeypox.
An image created during an investigation into an outbreak of monkeypox, which took place in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), 1996 to 1997, shows the hands of a patient with a rash due to monkeypox.(REUTERS)
An image created during an investigation into an outbreak of monkeypox, which took place in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), 1996 to 1997, shows the hands of a patient with a rash due to monkeypox.(REUTERS)
Published on May 19, 2022 08:33 PM IST
Copy Link
By | Written by Aryan Prakash | Edited by Chandrashekar Srinivasan

The United Kingdom Health Security Agency has warned 'men who are gay and bisexual' to be aware of unusual rashes or lesions and contact a doctor without delay in such a case. The warning comes after the UK reported its ninth monkeypox case since May 6, with the UKHSA confirming 'recent cases predominantly in gay and bisexual communities, or men who have sex with men (MSM)'.

The UK public health body said 'the virus does not spread easily between people' but since most recent cases were from the gay, bisexual and 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'.

ALSO READ: Explainer: Why monkeypox cases are rising in Europe

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 close contact with a person who has monkeypox or contact with clothing or linens used by a person who has monkeypox.

Calling it 'rare and unusual', Dr Susan Hopkins, the UKHSA's Chief Medical Adviser said the agency is investigating the source of these infections urgently over fears of community transmission.

The UKHSA is contacting potential close contacts of the infected patients.

"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," Dr Hopkins said in a UKHSA statement.

The patients have been admitted to specialist infectious disease units at hospitals in Newcastle and London, news agency PTI said in its report.

Concern over infections spreading through sexual contact were also flagged by the World Health Organisation (WHO) this week; "We are seeing transmission among men having sex with men," Ibrahima Soce Fall, assistant director general for emergency response at the WHO, said.

The United States' Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has voiced similar concerns.

What is monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a virus that originates in wild animals like rodents and primates and then spreads to people. A majority of initial infections were reported in central and west Africa.

There are two main variants - the Congo strain, which is more severe and has up to 10 per cent mortality, and the West African strain, which has a fatality rate of about 1 per cent.

When was it reported?

It was first identified by scientists in 1958 after outbreaks of pox-like diseases in research monkeys were reported. The first known human infection was in 1970 - a nine-year-old Congolese boy.

The virus belongs to the same family as the smallpox but causes milder symptoms.

What are the symptoms?

Health experts say most patients experience fever, body aches, chills and fatigue.

However, patients with serious illnesses may develop rashes and lesions on their face and hands, and this can spread to other parts of the body.

Where else has it been reported?

Besides the United Kingdom, Italy and Sweden have also reported cases, as has Portugal. The US' reported its first case this year - a man who had recently travelled to Canada. Last year the US reported cases in people who had travelled from Nigeria to Texas and Maryland.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Follow the latest breaking news and developments from India and around the world with Hindustan Times' newsdesk. From politics and policies to the economy and the environment, from local issues to national events and global affairs, we've got you covered.

Close Story
QUICKREADS

Less time to read?

Try Quickreads

  • People react outside the Tulua prison after an attempted riot that caused a fire where several prisoners were dead and injured in Tulua, Colombia.

    At least 51 dead in fire during prison riot in Colombia

    At least 51 prisoners died after a fire started during a prison riot in the southwestern Colombian city of Tulua, the head of the national prisons agency said on Tuesday, one of the worst incidents of recent prison violence in the country. Director of the INPEC prison agency, General Tito Castellanos, later confirmed a death toll of 51 people - at least 49 who died in the prison and two who died after being taken to hospital.

  • Abortion rights supporters march on Sunday during a protest in Washington, US. 

    US sees battles in state courts, primaries over abortion

    Abortion bans were temporarily blocked in Texas, Louisiana and Utah, while a federal court in Tennessee and South Carolina said a law sharply restricting the procedure would take effect there immediately as the battle over whether women may end pregnancies shifted from the nation's highest court to courthouses around the country. One side sought quickly to put statewide bans into effect, and the other tried to stop or at least delay such measures.

  • Law enforcement officers work at the scene where people were found dead inside a trailer truck in San Antonio, Texas.

    US: 50 migrants found dead in tractor-trailer

    The death toll from a human trafficking incident on Monday in which migrants suffered under extreme Texas heat inside a truck rose to 50 on Tuesday, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said. The migrants died inside a tractor-trailer in San Antonio, Texas, where temperatures swelled to a high of 39.4 degrees Celsius. It was one of the most deadly recent incidents of human smuggling along the US-Mexico border.

  •  British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell and US financier Jeffrey Epstein.

    Ghislaine Maxwell sentenced to 20 years for helping Jeffery Epstein

    Ghislaine Maxwell, the jet-setting socialite who once consorted with royals, presidents and billionaires, was sentenced to 20 years in prison Tuesday for helping the financier Jeffrey Epstein sexually abuse underage girls. In December, a jury convicted Maxwell of sex trafficking, transporting a minor to participate in illegal sex acts and two conspiracy charges.

  • Insurrections loyal to President Donald Trump rally at the US Capitol in Washington on January 6, 2021. (AP)

    Trump tried to grab steering wheel to go to US Capitol on January 6: Witness

    An enraged President Donald Trump tried to grab the steering wheel of his limousine when his security detail refused to drive him to the Capitol on Jan, 6, 2021, former senior White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson testified. Hutchinson was delivering on Tuesday a steady stream of blockbuster testimony to the House committee investigating the attack on the US Capitol on the day the 2020 election results were certified.

SHARE
Story Saved
×
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Wednesday, June 29, 2022