Monkeypox cases soar in UK, with more than 300 confirmed


Today, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said an additional 77 monkeypox cases have been confirmed across the United Kingdom, bringing the outbreak total to 302 as of yesterday. There are currently 287 confirmed cases in England, 10 in Scotland, 2 in Northern Ireland, and 3 in Wales.

The agency said men who have sex with men (MSM) are still disproportionately affected in this outbreak and urged citizens to contact a sexual health clinic if they notice new rashes or blisters, especially if they have had new sexual partners in the last 3 weeks or if they have recently visited West or Central Africa.

Globally, the monkeypox outbreak in nonendemic countries continues to grow, with more than 780 cases reported in the last 3 weeks. So far, 27 countries have reported cases. 

"The sudden and unexpected appearance of monkeypox simultaneously in several non-endemic countries suggests that there might have been undetected transmission for some unknown duration of time followed by recent amplifier events," the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a disease outbreak bulletin over the weekend. 

Of the 780 cases, 688 were from Europe, with 80 from the Americas. Spain (156) and Portugal (138) have the most cases outside of the United Kingdom.

Few hospitalizations and no deaths have been reported. Most cases are not presenting with classic monkeypox, which usually consists of a fever followed by a rash on the hands and face. Instead, patients present with a genital or anogenital rash.

"Cases were initially and mainly identified amongst men self-identified as part of extended sexual networks," the WHO said. "Some countries are reporting that new generations of cases are no longer appearing only among known contacts of previously confirmed cases, suggesting that chains of transmission are being missed through undetected circulation of the virus."

Washington, DC identifies first case

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the United States now has 25 confirmed cases of monkeypox in 12 states, with California and New York each reporting 5 cases. 

In Washington, DC, DC Health confirmed the first monkeypox case in that city in a resident who had recently traveled to Europe. 

"The patient is currently isolating and does not pose a risk to the public. DC Health is identifying and monitoring close contacts, however, at this time no additional cases have been identified in the District," DC Health said in a press release. 

The San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH) said it has recorded the first suspected case of monkeypox in that city. The case-patient traveled to a location currently seeing an outbreak of cases and is isolating at home in good condition. 

"San Francisco is prepared for this case and others, should more occur. We want to emphasize that this is not a disease that spreads easily through the air like COVID-19, however we do want people who might have been exposed to watch out for symptoms and to see a medical provider immediately if they develop symptoms for an evaluation," said Health Officer Susan Philip, MD, in a press release.

"While most cases resolve on their own, monkeypox can be serious in rare cases and we want to prevent further spread in the community."

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