First monkeypox cases confirmed in Wales and Northern Ireland

The UK Health Security Agency will provide updated figures on monkeypox later on Thursday.

Staff on a hospital ward
Staff on a hospital ward

The monkeypox virus has now been identified across the UK with the first recorded cases in Wales and Northern Ireland.

Health officials in Wales confirmed their first case on Thursday morning, before the Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland later confirmed a case.

Dr Giri Shankar, director of health protection for Public Health Wales, said: “We are working with the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), Public Health Scotland, and Public Health Agency Northern Ireland, and we are ready to respond to cases of monkeypox in Wales.

“The case is being managed appropriately. To protect patient confidentiality, no further details relating to the patient will be disclosed.

“Everyone is being asked to be aware of the monkeypox symptoms, but it is important that gay and bisexual men are alert as it’s believed to be spreading in sexual networks.

“Anyone with unusual rashes or lesions on any part of their body should contact NHS 111 or call a sexual health service if they have concerns.”

There are now believed to be 79 cases of monkeypox in the UK.

The UKHSA will update the totals later on Thursday.

Dr Gillian Armstrong, head of health protection at the Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland, said: “Following the detection of cases of monkeypox in England, the PHA has been in regular contact with UKHSA regarding the situation and we established a local multidisciplinary incident management team (IMT) to ensure that we are fully prepared for any potential risk to the population of Northern Ireland.

“The PHA has been working closely with trusts and GPs to raise awareness of the disease, and set up testing arrangements and clinical pathways.

“Cases of monkeypox are rare as the virus does not spread easily between people; therefore the risk to the Northern Ireland population is considered low.

“Appropriate public health actions are being taken and the PHA is working with UKHSA to investigate any potential links with UK cases and we will contact any potential close contacts to provide health information and advice.”

Despite the rise in cases, the UKHSA has said the risk to the overall UK population “remains low”.

Gay, bisexual and men who have sex with men are being urged in particular to be aware of symptoms, especially if they have recently had a new sexual partner.

UKHSA teams have been tracing contacts of those with a confirmed case and are advising those at highest risk to isolate for 21 days.

A smallpox vaccine is also being offered to close contacts to reduce their risk of symptoms and severe illness.

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