Anyone with ‘unusual rash or lesions’ urged to contact NHS as first monkeypox case confirmed in Wales
Anyone with “unusual rash or lesions” has been urged to contact the NHS by Wales’ Health Minister after the first case of monkeypox was confirmed in the country today.
Health officials in Wales confirmed their first case on Thursday morning. It has also spread to every other nation in the UK.
Eluned Morgan said that “the overall risk to the general public is low” but that “everyone is being asked to be aware of monkeypox symptoms”.
The individual with confirmed monkeypox is receiving care and treatment and contact tracing is underway.
“Monkeypox is a viral infection usually found in West and Central Africa and has been extremely rare in the UK,” the Health Minister said.
“The confirmation of this case in Wales is not unexpected in light of the developing situation in the UK and in a number of countries around the world.”
Initial symptoms of monkeypox include:
- Muscle aches
- Swollen lymph nodes
A rash can develop, often beginning on the face, then spreading to other parts of the body, including the genitals. The rash goes through different stages – it can look like chickenpox or syphilis, before finally forming a scab, which later falls off.
The virus does not usually spread easily between people. Monkeypox is passed on through very close contact with someone who is infected and has symptoms.
“For most, it will be a self-limiting illness and people will recover within a few weeks but some people can experience severe illness,” Elund Morgan said. “The overall risk to the general public is low.
“I urge anyone with an unusual rash or lesions on any part of their body, especially their genitals, to avoid close contact with others and call NHS 111 or their local sexual health service for advice. They are also advised to phone ahead before attending in person.
“Everyone is being asked to be aware of monkeypox symptoms, but it’s particularly important gay and bisexual men are alert.”
Dr Giri Shankar, director of health protection for Public Health Wales, said: “We are working with the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), Public Health Scotland, and Public Health Agency Northern Ireland, and we are ready to respond to cases of monkeypox in Wales.
“The case is being managed appropriately. To protect patient confidentiality, no further details relating to the patient will be disclosed.
“Everyone is being asked to be aware of the monkeypox symptoms, but it is important that gay and bisexual men are alert as it’s believed to be spreading in sexual networks.
“Anyone with unusual rashes or lesions on any part of their body should contact NHS 111 or call a sexual health service if they have concerns.”
There are now believed to be 79 cases of monkeypox in the UK.
The UKHSA will update the totals later on Thursday.
Despite the rise in cases, the UKHSA has said the risk to the overall UK population “remains low”.
Gay, bisexual and men who have sex with men are being urged in particular to be aware of symptoms, especially if they have recently had a new sexual partner.
UKHSA teams have been tracing contacts of those with a confirmed case and are advising those at highest risk to isolate for 21 days.
A smallpox vaccine is also being offered to close contacts to reduce their risk of symptoms and severe illness.
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