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Irish health authorities keeping watch for any potential monkeypox infections

Dr Hans Henri Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe, is concerned that transmission could accelerate as countries enter the summer ‘festival’ season.

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Cases in the UK have risen to 20 and infections have also been found in Spain, Portugal, the United States, Australia and other countries. Stock image

Cases in the UK have risen to 20 and infections have also been found in Spain, Portugal, the United States, Australia and other countries. Stock image

Cases in the UK have risen to 20 and infections have also been found in Spain, Portugal, the United States, Australia and other countries. Stock image

Ireland is still free of any known cases of monkeypox virus but health authorities are keeping a watch for any potential infections, the HSE said today.

Cases in the UK have risen to 20 and infections have also been found in Spain, Portugal, the United States, Australia and other countries.

Dr Hans Henri Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe, is concerned that transmission could accelerate as countries enter the summer "festival" season.

The HSE said the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) has been informed of a number of suspected and confirmed cases of monkeypox in the UK, several European countries, North America and Australia.

The vast majority of these cases do not have a travel link to a country where monkeypox is endemic.

Most of the recent cases that have been reported in the UK self-identify as gay, bisexual and men who have sex with men (gbMSM).

A multidisciplinary Incident Management Team has been established by the HSE to actively monitor this evolving international situation and prepare services in Ireland for the possibility of monkeypox cases arising in Ireland.

There are no known monkeypox cases in Ireland at present.

Monkeypox is a rare disease that is caused by infection with monkeypox virus. It occurs primarily in remote parts of Central and West Africa. There are two types of monkeypox: West African monkeypox and Congo Basin monkeypox. The Congo Basin type is more severe, but only the milder, West African type has been spread to countries outside Africa.

Monkeypox infection is usually a self-limiting illness and most people recover within weeks, although severe illness can occur in people with very weak immune systems, and in very small babies.

Severe illness and death outside Africa are extremely unlikely.

Most cases of monkeypox occur when people have very close contact with infected animals or from eating infected bushmeat.

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Infection can be spread from person-to-person through contact with bodily fluids and skin lesions of a monkeypox case. Monkeypox is not very infectious – it takes close physical contact to spread between people. Contact with close family members or sexual contact poses the biggest risks of person-to-person spread. The risk of spread within the community, in general, is very low.

Symptoms of monkeypox include: fever (>38.50C), headache, muscle aches, backache,

swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion.

A rash, which starts out on the face and spreads to the face and mouth, as raised red spots that quickly develop into little blisters, typically develops within one to three days of fever onset.

Following sexual contact, the rash can also be found initially in the anogenital areas.

The rash goes through different stages before finally forming scabs which later fall off.

Monkeypox infection is usually a self-limiting illness and most people recover within weeks, although severe illness can occur in people with very weak immune systems, and in very small babies.

There is no medicine that can cure monkeypox. Treatment of monkeypox is mainly supportive. This involves treating any uncomfortable symptoms, such as pain or itch, that occur, keeping the patient warm, comfortable and relaxed, and making sure they get plenty of fluids. This allows the patient’s own body defences to fight the infection.

Although the risk of spread in the wider community is low, the most recent cases in gbMSM communities in the UK suggests there may be a higher risk in this group. As the virus spreads through close contact, the HSE is advising those who self-identify as gbMSM (especially if they have undertaken international travel in the past month), to be alert to any unusual rashes or vesicular lesions on any part of their (or their partner’s) body, especially their genitalia.

If they do notice any such changes, they should contact their local STI Clinic or their General Practitioner (GP) for advice. A list of public STI services is available on the HSE’s Sexual Wellbeing website.


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