UK’s spread of monkeypox is ‘amazing and will continue to grow’ says leading scientist

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A leading scientist said he was shocked by the scale of monkeypox cases in the UK and was encouraged to offer close contact with people infected with the smallpox vaccine to limit its spread.

Oren Kobiler, a microbiologist at Tel Aviv University, said I that although it is not necessary to consider a mass vaccination programme, the smallpox vaccine is 85% effective against monkeypox and should be used under current circumstances.

He said: “Vaccines are not 100 percent effective and not 100 percent safe. And the smallpox vaccine is one of the oldest, so it’s not the safest.

“There are newer variants of the smallpox vaccine that should be safer, but you still need to balance the likelihood of being infected with monkeypox, and how many people could be infected at this time, versus how much vaccine is needed to prevent the virus.” Next. infection. I don’t think we’re even close to starting to think about it seriously.

“The only thing we can think of is vaccinating close contacts of those who are infected. Here’s how we prevented the latest smallpox outbreak: by finding every case of smallpox and vaccinating all the towns around it. If we can do it here and find close contacts, we might be able to stop the spread sooner.

“That’s something we can do and we’re probably not going to see any side effects from a vaccine with such a small population, so it has to be considered. But it’s too early to start thinking about a mass vaccination programme.”

It comes as the number of confirmed cases of monkeypox in the UK has risen to 71, with 14 new cases identified in the UK, the UK Health Safety Agency (UKHSA) said. One confirmed case lives in Scotland. No cases have been identified in Wales or Northern Ireland.

An “extraordinary proportion” of cases were among gay and bisexual men, the UKHSA said. Notifications have been sent to sexual health clinics and an intensification of the public health campaign is being considered. The UKHSA team has traced high-risk contacts of people with confirmed cases and advised contacts to self-isolate for 21 days. It also offers a smallpox vaccine to close contacts to reduce the risk of serious symptoms and illness.

The UK has around 5,000 doses of the smallpox vaccine, but the Government ordered another 20,000 due to concerns in Whitehall that many infections have not been discovered. To date, monkeypox has only been seen in isolated travel-related cases.

Why is your pet (probably) safe

Monkeypox is a viral disease of animal origin and is usually found in rainforest areas of central and western Africa.

The good news is that pets and pets are quite safe, as scientists say animals susceptible to the virus come from the area and include rope squirrels, tree squirrels, Gambian rats, mice, primates, and several other species. .

No cases have been reported in pets at this time, but in a quick risk assessment on Monday, the European Center for Disease Control warned that it is important to “manage exposed pets and prevent the spread of disease to wildlife.” .

The update said: “If human-to-animal transmission occurs and the virus spreads in animal populations, there is a risk the disease could become endemic in Europe.”

Dr Oren Kobiler said he was not concerned about monkeypox becoming the next pandemic, as the virus “does not spread well from person to person.” (Photo: Tel Aviv University)

When asked about the possibility of the virus passing from humans to animals, Dr Kobiler said: “It’s a possibility, but I don’t think it’s possible. In addition, I believe that the virus would not be able to sustain a continuous cycle of transmission in pets.

“The highest probability, still very low, is that it will jump onto a rodent in the Northern Hemisphere and cause an accidental zoonosis. [from animal to human] infection over time. I also don’t think this virus is likely to have any impact on farm animals.”

Cases of monkeypox have also been detected in several European countries. Israel has also confirmed one case. Dr. David Heymann, lead adviser to the World Health Organization, said the main theory to explain the spread of the disease was sexual transmission between gay and bisexual men at two raves held in Spain and Belgium attended by tens of thousands of people.

Monkeypox can be transmitted through direct sexual contact, but is not considered a sexually transmitted infection. It has not previously caused widespread outbreaks outside of Africa, where it is endemic in animals.

Dr Kobiler agrees that “two or three” superspreading events are likely behind the unprecedented outbreak and expects the number of cases in the UK to continue to rise as the chain of infection remains unclear.

He said: “We may have lost more than we know now. The number will continue to rise. I’m not sure when it will end, but the numbers are expected to still increase, at least from my point of view.

“I don’t think people should start worrying yet. The numbers are still low and you have to be in very close contact with someone to get infected. It doesn’t airborne and is less likely to infect those around you if you don’t have close contact.

“The main thing is to know the symptoms and people who are in close contact with those who are infected should be aware that they may be infectious and that is a major problem.”

Health officials stressed that the risk to the UK population “remains low” but urged anyone with an unusual rash or lesion anywhere on the body to contact NHS 111 or local sexual health services.

Dr Susan Hopkins, UKHSA Senior Medical Advisor, said: “We continue to rapidly identify more cases of monkeypox in the UK through our extensive surveillance and contact tracing network, our attentive NHS service and thanks to those who are helping us. .

“If someone suspects that they may have a rash or sores on any part of their body, especially if they have recently had a new sexual partner, they should limit their contact with other people and contact NHS 111 or their local sexual health service as soon as possible. although please call first before attending in person. ”

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Stuart Martin

"Internet trailblazer. Troublemaker. Passionate alcohol lover. Beer advocate. Zombie ninja."

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