Monkeypox: What you should do if you suspect you might have the virus

The WHO is responding to the outbreak of monkeypox virus as high priority, although the risk to the general is low.

As of last Friday, May 27, the UK had recorded 90 cases of the monkeypox virus, according to the country’s Heath Security Agency. The total number of cases across the world has risen to 225 during that period, an issue of concern for scientists as it indicates the disease is spreading in countries where it is not endemic. Although the risk to the public is low, people have been infected tend to be seriously ill.

Monkeypox virus

Monkeypox is a rare virus of the same family as smallpox and can cause symptoms including high temperature, aches, chills and an often painful rash. These rashes which start off as raised spots that turn into fluid-filled blisters, usually begin on the face before spreading to other parts of the body.

For most people, these symptoms tend to clear in two to four weeks. The disease is usually mild with rare deaths - there’s not been any reported deaths in the current outbreak. Reader in Virology at Imperial College London, Dr Michael Skinner said:

Monkeypox seems to require close contact to spread. We’ve seen infection of close family or household members and carers in hospitals, which might also include intimate contact. Depending on the stage of infection, close range respiratory or droplet transmission can probably occur.

He added that direct contact with lesions could also transmit the virus which might enter the body by the mouth.

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Getty/ Md Saiful Islam Khan

What you should do

The World Health Organization has described the current outbreak as 'containable' with low risk to the public. The majority of the cases that have been recorded in Europe have been found in men who have sex with men, but health officials say it will be inaccurate to label it as an STI.

UKHSA is advising the UK public to be alert to any new rashes or lesions on their bodies. Chief Medical Adviser Dr Susan Hopkins said:

If anyone suspects they might have rashes or lesions on any part of their body, particularly if they have recently had a new sexual partner, they should limit their contact with others and contact NHS 111 or their local sexual health service as soon as possible, though please phone ahead before attending in person.

Read more:

Monkeypox: WHO recommends Covid-19 measures to contain the virus

Monkeypox: Experts suspect the disease could be sexually transmissible

Monkeypox: The signs and symptoms of the virus detected in the UK

Monkeypox: The signs and symptoms of the virus detected in the UK Monkeypox: The signs and symptoms of the virus detected in the UK