Health officials confirm seven new monkeypox cases in Wales
Public Health Wales has confirmed that seven additional cases of monkeypox have been identified in Wales, bringing the total number of cases to 16.
This is the largest number of weekly cases confirmed since the first monkeypox infection was detected in May.
Health officials say the cases are being managed appropriately and to protect patient confidentiality no further details relating to the patients will be disclosed.
Official figures on the outbreak confirm 1,185 cases have been identified in England, 34 in Scotland and 6 in Northern Ireland.
Last month Health Minister Eluned Morgan announced the roll-out of a vaccination programme to combat the current outbreak of monkeypox and confirmed the Welsh Government had amended the Health Protection Regulations to make monkeypox a notifiable disease.
The roll out in Wales followed advice from UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) which set out plans to control the spread of the virus by offering some gay and bisexual men at higher risk of exposure the smallpox vaccine Imvanex.
The UKHSA said that the jab had been shown to be effective against monkeypox.
The new strategy, endorsed by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), suggests that eligibility would depend on a number of factors but a clinician may advise vaccination for someone who has a “recent history of multiple partners, participating in group sex, attending sex on premises venues or a proxy marker such as recent bacterial STI in the past year”.
The virus is not currently defined as a sexually transmitted infection, but it can be passed on by close and intimate contact that occurs during sex.
In a written statement, the minister also confirmed there will be a limited post-exposure vaccination element to the programme for household and sexual contacts of confirmed cases, ideally within four days of exposure, extended to up to 14 days for those who are at an ongoing risk or are at a higher risk of the complications of monkeypox.
An individual’s eligibility would depend on a number of factors but “would be similar to the criteria used to assess those eligible for HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis – but applied regardless of HIV status.”
A number of health workers are already offered the jab, including those who care for people with the virus and lab workers where pox viruses are handled.
The vaccine has also been offered to close contacts of those who have a confirmed case of monkeypox to reduce their risk of symptoms and severe illness.
The health minister said: “Everyone is being asked to be aware of monkeypox symptoms but it’s particularly important gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men are alert.”
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