Health

Monkeypox showing signs of plateauing in UK, say health officials


The monkeypox outbreak in the UK is showing signs of plateauing, the UK Health Security Agency has said.

The organisation said there had been 2,859 confirmed and highly probable cases of the viral disease as of 4 August, the majority of which are transmitted between men who have sex with men.

Despite recent figures suggesting the outbreak has slowed, the agency’s director said “we cannot be complacent”.

“If you are concerned that you may have monkeypox symptoms, take a break from events, meeting with friends or having sexual contact. Instead, stay at home and contact 111 or your local sexual health service for advice,” said Meera Chand, the director of clinical and emerging infections at UKHSA.

Within England, the majority of cases have been in London. The median age of confirmed cases in the UK is 37, and 99% of all UK cases are male.

The smallpox vaccine is being offered to individuals at higher risk of coming into contact with monkeypox, according to the agency, in efforts to protect individuals and reduce the spread of the disease.

Last month a vaccination drive was launched as sexual health campaigners warned health authorities were underestimating the scale of the response required to stop monkeypox becoming endemic in the UK.

As cases surpassed 2,000, public health officials ordered 100,000 more doses of vaccine.

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The news of UK cases plateauing comes as parts of the US brace for the viral disease, where it has already been declared a public health emergency by the president, Joe Biden, after New York City, San Francisco and other cities announced a state of emergency.

The global monkeypox outbreak was declared a public health emergency of international concern by the World Health Organization (WHO) last month. It was the seventh time such a declaration has been made since 2009, the most recent being for Covid-19.

The WHO later advised men at risk of catching monkeypox to consider reducing how many sexual partners they have “for the moment”.



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