You may have only started hearing about monkeypox, however this disease which is relatively rare, was first discovered in the 1950s.
Monkeypox is mostly spread by animals and is not limited to monkeys, it has always been relatively rare and contained within central and western African countries.
Monkeypox has been circulating in the UK since May 2022, in addition to certain cases in Australia and America. So far the total number of cases in Wales is 23 (https://phw.nhs.wales/news/public-health-wales-statement-on-confirmed-case-of-monkeypox/) – at the date of going to print)
How do you get monkeypox?
Monkeypox can be caught from infected:
If you are bitten by an infected animal or touch its blood, body fluids or spots. It may also be possible to catch monkeypox by eating the infected animal that has not been cooked thoroughly in central or west Africa.
It can also be spread through person to person, using the same clothes, touching bedding used by someone with the monkeypox rash, or touching the monkeypox skin blisters or scabs, or if someone with the monkeypox rash coughs or sneezes close to you.
While numbers in the UK are still extremely low to date you are unlikely to have monkeypox if
- You have not been in close contact with someone who has monkeypox or monkeypox symptoms
- You have not recently travelled to countries in west or central Africa who have high rates.
Monkeypox can affect all genders. However, to date, cases currently remain higher among men, specifically those who are gay, bisexual, or have sex with men.
If you are infected with monkeypox it can take between 5 days and three weeks for the first symptoms to appear. The symptoms include;
- A fever
- A headache
- Muscle aches and pains
- A rash usually appears between a day and 5 days after the onset of the symptoms. It is common for the rash to begin on the fact and spread to other areas of the body.
It is important if you have a rash with blisters and have potentially been in close contact with someone who has or may have monkeypox, it is vital that you seek medical advice. Furthermore, if you have been to west or central Africa in the past 3 weeks, contact a sexual health clinical via the telephone before going in to the sexual clinic.
Monkeypox is generally mild and most individuals recover within weeks without the need for treatment. Due to the infection spreading through close contact, isolation may be recommended. If you become severely unwell or you’re at risk of becoming seriously ill, you may receive treatment in the hospital setting.
As numbers remain low at present, just being aware of the symptoms is recommended. If you ever have any concerns do not hesitate to contact your GP or pharmacist who will be willing to answer any queries or concerns you may have.