Northern Ireland news

Two confirmed cases of monkeypox in NI

There are two confirmed cases of monkeypox in NI

THERE are two confirmed cases of monkeypox in Northern Ireland, the Public Health Agency (PHA) has said.

While the risk to the population in the north is low, the PHA said, it is reminding people who think they have been at risk of exposure to monkeypox and have symptoms to not go to a healthcare facility without contacting them first.

Around 190 cases of monkeypox have been detected across the UK, officials have said as they confirmed 11 additional cases in England last night.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said that 183 cases have been confirmed in England since May 7. There are four cases in Scotland, one in Wales and two in Northern Ireland.

The PHA also advised people to be alert to any new rashes or lesions, which appear like spots, ulcers or blisters, on any part of their body.

It said that "although this advice applies to everyone, the majority of the cases identified to date have been among men who are gay, bisexual and men who have sex with men, so we are asking these people in particular to be aware of the symptoms, particularly if they have recently had a new sexual partner".

Dr Jillian Johnston from the PHA, said: "Following the detection of cases of monkeypox in other parts of the UK the PHA has been in regular contact with UKHSA regarding the situation and we established a local multidisciplinary incident management team (IMT) to ensure that we are fully prepared for any potential risk to the population of Northern Ireland.

"The PHA has been working closely with Trusts and GPs to raise awareness of the disease, and set up testing arrangements and clinical pathways.

"Cases of monkeypox are rare as the virus does not spread easily between people; therefore the risk to the Northern Ireland population is considered low.

"Appropriate public health actions are being taken and the PHA is working with UKHSA to investigate any potential links with UK cases and we will contact any potential close contacts to provide health information and advice."

Initial symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion. A rash can develop, often beginning on the face, then spreading to other parts of the body including the genitals.

The rash changes and goes through different stages – it can look like chickenpox or syphilis, before finally forming a scab which later falls off.

The PHA said that suspected and confirmed cases should self-isolate for 21 days, with people identified as having the closest contact also recommended to self-isolate for 21 days from last contact with the case.

Those with the closest contact to the case will be offered vaccination with the smallpox vaccine, to offer them protection.

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