What Is Monkeypox Virus? UK Experts Warn Gay, Bisexual Men

OB Bureau

London: After the corona, here comes monkeypox.

A virus that originates in wild animals like rodents and primates, and then spreads to human beings, there seems to be a mini outbreak of monkeypox in the UK.

The UK reported its ninth monkeypox case in the last fortnight. Interestingly, United Kingdom Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has warned gay and bisexual men to look out for unusual rashes or lesions.

Confirming that recent cases have been predominantly in ‘gay and bisexual communities, or men who have sex with men (MSM)’, UKHSA advised those developing rashes to contact a doctor without delay.

UKHSA’s Chief Medical Adviser Dr Susan Hopkins called it “rare and unusual”, and said the agency is investigating the source of these infections urgently over fears of community transmission.

“We are particularly urging men who are gay and bisexual to be aware of any unusual rashes or lesions and to contact a sexual health service without delay,” Dr Hopkins said in a statement.

Monkeypox patients were admitted to infectious disease units of hospitals in Newcastle and London, PTI reported.

Even World Health Organisation (WHO) has voiced concern over infections spreading through sexual contact.

“We are seeing transmission among men having sex with men,” said Ibrahima Soce Fall, assistant director general for emergency response at WHO.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in US has voiced similar concerns.

Origin of monkeypox

A majority of initial monkeypox infections were reported in central and west Africa. Two main variants are known so far – the more severe Congo strain, which has up to 10 per cent mortality, and West African strain, which has a fatality rate of about 1 per cent.

Scientists first identified it in 1958 after pox-like diseases were reported in monkeys used in research. The first known human infection was in 1970 — a nine-year-old Congolese boy.

Symptoms of monkeypox

Patients experience fever, body aches, chills and fatigue. In severe cases, patients develop rashes and lesions on their face and hands, which can spread to other parts of the body.

The virus is from same family as smallpox but generally causes milder symptoms.

Where else reported?

Italy, Sweden and Portugal have reported a few cases this year. US’s first case this year was a man who had recently travelled to Canada. In 2021, US reported monkeypox cases in people who had travelled from Nigeria.

OB Bureau

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