An advisory group on monkeypox virus has been set up to provide guidelines on how to respond to the spread of infection.
The group will be chaired by the interim chief medical officer Dr Breda Smyth.
It follows revelations that over 6,000 people here are at heightened risk of the virus but just 600 will get a vaccine to reduce the chance of infection due to limited supplies.
Some 113 cases of monkeypox have been diagnosed here so far this year.
The new group will advise the Minister for Health and Government “on how best to respond to the monkeypox outbreak, enhancing the significant work undertaken by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer and the Department of Health, the HSE, and the HSE’s multidisciplinary Incident Management Team (IMT), which was established when the international alert on monkeypox was first raised, and other relevant agencies and organisations, including significant stakeholder and community representation and engagement,” the Department of Health said today.
The World Health Organisation recently said the monkeypox outbreak represents a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).
The Strategic Advisory Group will review evidence and advise as appropriate in relation to surveillance and management of monkeypox at a national level; develop and implement a strategy to contain monkeypox; and provide oversight and assurance of the national response.
Prof Smyth said all European countries are grappling with a limited supply of vaccine at this point.
She said the multidisciplined membership of the Strategic Advisory Group will play a key role in providing oversight and advice on the surveillance and management of monkeypox at a national level as well as the ongoing strategy to contain the outbreak, supporting our efforts to contain the spread of the disease.
“While anyone, regardless of their sexuality can get monkeypox, surveillance data indicates that almost all cases in Ireland, are in men who self-identify as gay, bisexual or other men who have sex with men (gbMSM).
“It's important to be aware of monkeypox and its symptoms in order to protect ourselves and others. Symptoms include: a high temperature (380C or higher), muscle pains, swollen glands, exhaustion, headache, backache, shivering or chills. A rash usually appears 1 – 5 days after the first symptoms. The rash often begins on the face and then spreads to other parts of the body.
“If you have symptoms of monkeypox or have been in contact with someone who has monkeypox, please contact your GP.
The first people to get the vaccine will be men who tested positive for syphilis between December and July.
On average around ten cases of monkeypox cases are being identified here a week. Just four were hospitalised.