(CTN News) – On Friday, the UK government announced it was stockpiling smallpox vaccines to prevent a rise in cases of monkeypox, a viral infection similar to smallpox.
There have been an additional 11 cases of monkeypox detected in England, bringing the country’s total number of confirmed cases to 20 since early this month.
“Most cases are mild, and I can confirm that we have procured further doses of vaccines that are effective against monkeypox,” said UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid in a statement at the G7 meeting on Friday.
Monkeypox outbreak: 11 more cases confirmed, bringing UK total to 20
Monkeypox can be transmitted through close contact or contact with clothing or linens used by a person with the infection.
According to the UKHSA, however, the virus is not usually spread easily and the risk to the UK population remains low. The National Health Service (NHS) is urging anyone with an unusual rash or lesion on any part of their body, especially their genitalia, to dial 111.
We are investigating the source of these infections rapidly and educating healthcare professionals. Health information and advice will be provided to any identified close contacts of those involved,” said Dr Susan Hopkins, UKHSA Chief Medical Adviser.
The disease has been found in an unusually high number of gay and bisexual men in the UK and Europe, so we encourage them to be alert to the symptoms and seek help if necessary, she said.
Hopkins said more cases would be found through active case-finding with the NHS and “heightened vigilance” among healthcare providers.
We expect that this trend will continue in the coming days, and more cases will be identified in the wider community. Furthermore, we are receiving reports of cases being identified in other countries around the world,” she said.
A few cases of the disease have been reported in Europe, the US, Canada, and Australia recently.
The World Health Organization (WHO) is convening an emergency meeting with experts.
Monkeypox symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, backaches, swollen lymph nodes, chills, and exhaustion. Often, a rash develops on the face, spreading to other parts of the body, including the genital area.
There are different stages of the rash – it can look like chickenpox or syphilis, before finally forming a scab that falls off.