THE UK monkeypox outbreak has grown again and Brits are being warned to dealy having sex until after they’ve done a symptom check.
Up to 25 July, there have been 2,367 confirmed cases, a rise of 159 in the space of four days.
There are also 65 “highly probable cases”, taking the total to 2,432.
The UK Health and Security Agency said some labs are now testing samples for orthopox, a group of viruses that includes monkeypox.
If the test result is positive, it is considered highly likely the person has monkeypox and they are tested specifically for the bug.
Dr Sophia Makki, National Incident Director at UKHSA, warned people to check for symptoms of monkeypox – namely a rash or blisters on the skin – before having sex.
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Close physical contact enables the virus to spread, hence why people are picking it up through sexual activity.
But it is not defined as a sexually tramismitted disease.
People can also catch monkeypox from an infected person’s bed sheets or towels, or from their coughs or sneezes.
Dr Makki said: “Monkeypox cases continue to rise, with the virus being passed on predominantly in interconnected sexual networks.
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“Before you have sex, go to a party or event, check yourself for monkeypox symptoms, including rashes and blisters.
“If you have monkeypox symptoms, take a break from attending events or sex until you’ve called 111 or a sexual health service and been assessed by a clinician.”
The UKHSA previously warned that monkeypox patients should use condoms for 12 weeks after they’ve had the bug.
The agency said there is a “body of evidence” showing monkeypox is present in the semen of people infected.
The NHS has launched a vaccination programme, centred around the outbreak epicentre of London, to protect those most at risk.
This includes men who have sex with men, including gay and bisexual men.
More than 95 per cent of the monkeypox cases so far in the UK have been in this group – with the same trend seen globally.
Some 100,000 jabs will be available.
Dr Makki said: “Vaccination will further strengthen our monkeypox response and so we urge all those who are eligible for the vaccine to take it up when offered.
“It will help protect yourself and others you have had close contact with.
“While the infection is mild for many, it can cause severe symptoms and hospitalisation in some.
“Please remember that the vaccine may not provide complete protection against monkeypox, so it is still important to be alert for the symptoms of monkeypox and call 111 or a sexual health clinic if you develop any.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) said the monkeypox virus has reached more than 70 countries, declaring it a global health emergency.
The surge in monkeypox infections is unusual because it is outside the West and Central African countries where it is endemic.
The first symptoms of monkeypox are fever, headaches, muscle pain and back pain during the course of five days.
Rashes subsequently appear on the face, palms of hands and soles of the feet, followed by lesions, spots and finally scabs.
The UKHSA updated its official list of monkeypox symptoms in light of new evidence.
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Experts said that just a single lesion or lesions on the genitals, anus and surrounding area, lesions in the mouth, and symptoms of anal rectal pain or bleeding can be a sign.
They highlighted that this is a red flag especially if the individual has recently had a new sexual partner.
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