People with monkeypox can self-isolate at home – UKHSA

A woman holds a mock-up vial labeled “Monkey pox vaccine” and a medical syringe in this illustration taken May 25, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

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LONDON, May 30 (Reuters) – People infected with monkeypox can self-isolate at home if they stay well enough, while following measures to limit close contact with others, Britain’s health security agency said on Monday. (UKHSA), under new guidelines designed to curb rising cases of the viral illness in the country.

More than 300 suspected and confirmed cases of monkeypox – a usually mild disease that is spread through close contact and can cause flu-like symptoms and pus-filled skin lesions – were reported in May, outside Africa where the virus is endemic. Read more

Scientists are investigating what could explain the unusual rise in cases, given that most are not travel-related. Read more

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The UKHSA said on Monday that community transmission was occurring in the UK and those infected should avoid contact with others until their lesions have healed and the scabs have dried.

Infected people can limit the risk of spread by using standard cleaning and disinfecting methods and washing their own clothes and linens with detergents in a washing machine, the agency advised.

In addition, infected people should abstain from sex as soon as symptoms appear – and although there is currently no available evidence of the spread of monkeypox via genital excreta, people are advised people infected with the virus to use condoms for eight weeks after infection as a precautionary measure, the agency added.

The highest risk of transmission is direct contact with someone with monkeypox – but the overall risk to the UK population remains low, said Ruth Milton, senior medical adviser and director of monkeypox strategic response at UKHSA.

The agency, which offers a vaccine to close contacts of cases, has purchased more than 20,000 doses of a smallpox vaccine made by Bavarian Nordic (BAVA.CO). Read more

Smallpox and monkeypox viruses are closely related.

RISK MANAGEMENT

The UKHSA has recommended that healthcare staff working with confirmed and suspected cases wear personal protective equipment including gowns, goggles and gloves.

The vaccine will now also be offered to healthcare workers involved in the care of patients with confirmed monkeypox and staff working in sexual health services who have been identified as assessing suspected cases.

Meanwhile, in settings such as adult social services, prisons and homeless shelters, patients must be cared for in one room with a separate toilet.

The risk of a case infecting a pet is low, the agency added.

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Reporting by Natalie Grover in London; Editing by Tomasz Janowski and Bernadette Baum

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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