97 cases of monkeypox confirmed in Republic
There have been 97 confirmed cases of monkeypox in the Republic, according to the latest figures from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC).
This is up from a total of 85 confirmed cases notified to health authorities in the previous week.
The number of acute cases of monkeypox in Ireland remains the same as the previous week – 10 patients have been admitted to hospital, four of whom were admitted for clinical care, two were admitted for isolation purposes only, and information on the reason for admission for the other four is still awaited.
Among all 97 cases notified as of July 30, all patients are male and have a median age of 36.
In 75 cases, the sexual orientation of the person is known, and all self-identify as gay, bisexual or other men who have sex with men (gbMSM).
For each case, the HPSC said public health professionals are following up those who had close contact with the patient while they were infectious.
Public health risk assessments have been undertaken, the HPSC said, and those who were in contact with the cases are being advised on what to do in the event that they become ill.
A multi-country outbreak of monkeypox has resulted in more than 25,000 confirmed cases of the disease worldwide, leading the World Health Organisation to declare a public health emergency of international concern in July.
It has been recommended that countries with cases of monkeypox should strengthen their public health and clinical responses to stop transmission and engage with affected communities.
The vast majority of these cases do not have a travel link to a country where monkeypox has been endemic.
Many countries have reported that the cases are predominantly, but not exclusively, in males who self-identify as gbMSM.
Last week, the Dublin government accepted a recommendation from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) to offer the smallpox vaccine to people who are at high risk of monkeypox infection in Ireland – including gay, bisexual men and other men who have sex with men.
Social Democrats co-leader and health spokesperson Roisin Shortall said there has been “a complete absence of information” about when the rollout is to begin.
She added: “The lack of urgency about addressing what the WHO have called a global health emergency is deeply worrying.
“We have a vaccine that is effective against monkeypox – but communities most at risk have no idea about how they can be inoculated.”
Ms Shortall said the information gap was causing “a huge amount of concern and frustration”, and contrasts with fast rollouts in other countries.
She said: “There have now been 97 confirmed cases of monkeypox in Ireland and that number is bound to increase in the coming days and weeks. The minister must clarify when the vaccination programme, announced last week, will begin.”