First case of monkeypox detected in Scotland

Denmark also sees first case as outbreak continues to spread around globe

Liam James
Monday 23 May 2022 12:53 BST
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Test tubes marked ‘Monkeypox virus’ – stock image
Test tubes marked ‘Monkeypox virus’ – stock image (Reuters)

Scotland has recorded its first case of monkeypox, as more UK cases are set to be announced.

The person infected in Scotland is “being managed and treated in line with nationally agreed protocols and guidance”, according to Dr Nick Phin, a director of Public Health Scotland.

Officials did not confirm details of the infected person, nor where they were located, but said close contacts were being traced and would be given support and possibly vaccination against the virus.

Cases of monkeypox have surged around the world in recent weeks after Britain reported a case to the World Health Organisation (WHO) on 6 May.

Since then, the WHO has recorded more than 90 confirmed cases of the disease in a dozen countries including the UK, Spain, Portugal, Israel, France, the US and Australia – and cases have been linked to travel between some of these countries.

Denmark reported its first case on Monday in a man who returned from Spain.

On Friday, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) announced 20 people in England had been confirmed to have the virus, with more expected to be announced on Monday.

Monkeypox is a disease usually linked to west Africa. The first case of the recent outbreak was in a person who had recently returned from Nigeria but, since subsequent cases were found without travel links, health officials think the virus is likely spreading within Britain.

Downing Street said the UKHSA was monitoring the outbreak “extremely carefully”. The UKHSA has warned the public to be alert but said as monkeypox is a typically mild, self-limiting disease which is spread by physical contact, the risk posed to the general population is low.

A government minister on Monday said the outbreak was not a repeat of the Covid-19 pandemic and noted there was a working vaccine available. The government advises anyone with symptoms or who has been in close contact with an infected person to isolate for 21 days.

Developing stages of monkeypox (UKHSA/PA)

Typical symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion. A blister-like rash or sores can also develop, starting on the face but spreading across the body.

The rash changes throughout the infection, finally forming a scab which falls off within weeks.

Many of the early cases were in gay or bisexual men, leading the UKHSA to warn such people in particular to to be alert to any symptoms.

An infectious diseases expert said superspreader events were likely behind the global surge in monkeypox cases. Sir Jeremy Farrar, the director of Wellcome, said the latest outbreak differs to earlier ones as the virus has “spread across borders so quickly”.

Spain and Portugal have reported the highest case totals so far, with 34 and 37 respectively. Madrid’s senior health official said on Monday that authorities were investigating possible links between a recent Gay Pride event in the Canary Islands, which drew some 80,000 people, and cases at a Madrid sauna.

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