The World Health Organisation has urged people to get vaccinated against monkeypox and has admitted it is “very worried” about the spread of the disease.
Traditionally caught by people in central and western Africa who live close to tropical rainforests, the number of cases diagnosed in Europe and North America has skyrocketed in recent months.
Men who have sex with men have a particularly high risk of catching the virus and speaking to The Anton Savage Show, Dr Catherine Smallwood, a WHO Senior Emergency Officer, said that the key to protecting oneself was vaccination:
“If you are at risk or you consider yourself at increased risk of catching monkeypox, really make sure [you know] what your vaccination options are,” she explained.
“Some countries are recommending vaccination for people who are at especially high risk but also people who are in contact with a monkeypox case - you may be eligible for vaccination and if you are you should get that quickly.
“So these are all the things that people should be very aware of.”
The first monkeypox case in the Republic of Ireland was confirmed by Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly in late May. The HSE states that the disease is still “very rare” here but Dr Smallwood said there are a number of symptoms people should be on the lookout for:
“[It] will vary based on the way that the person has been exposed,” she continued.
“But what we really do see is an initial fever and that will then be accompanied by several other symptoms.
“So distinctive for monkeypox is swollen lymph nodes, swollen glands that can be very painful.
“And then the appearance of this very distinctive rash - hence its name ‘pox’ - which can appear on any part of the body but if it’s transmitted during sexual activity - which we’re seeing a lot of at the moment - it may be around the genitialia but it may be somewhere else as well.
“So that will start as a raised red rash and will develop into what we describe as blister like lesions, so you may have one of those or many of those.
“And those will develop over the course of the week or so into really quite painful lesions that can be very uncomfortable and then can lead to secondary infections and to some complications that might mean that some people have to be hospitalised.”
HSE recommends that people who have monkeypox spend the length of their illness in hospital in order to avoid passing it on to other people.
Main image: A monkeypox patient. Picture by: RGB Ventures / SuperStock / Alamy Stock Photo