Two cases of suspected monkeypox reported in Blackpool as infection spreads across UK
Two suspected cases of monkeypox were reported in Blackpool.
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UKHSA collects these and publishes analyses of local and national trends every week.
On June 7, monkeypox was made a notifiable disease, meaning doctors must report any suspected cases and laboratories must report all confirmed cases.
The two suspected cases in Blackpool were logged in the week ending June 19.
Over 790 cases have been confirmed in the UK.
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said that in a bid to control the outbreak, some gay and bisexual men at higher risk of exposure to monkeypox should be offered the smallpox vaccine Imvanex.
The UKHSA said that the jab had been shown to be effective against monkeypox.
Its 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 guidance does not recommend vaccination to the general population.
The NHS in England is to set out details on how eligible people can get vaccinated “shortly”.
A number of health workers have already been 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.
While the virus can be caught by anyone – and it is not currently defined as a sexually transmitted infection – it can be passed on through intimate contact during sex.
The current outbreak has largely occurred among gay and bisexual men, according to the UKHSA.
Just five cases have been confirmed in women.
Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at UKHSA, said: “Our extensive contact tracing work has helped to limit the spread of the monkeypox virus, but we are continuing to see a notable proportion of cases in gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men.
“By expanding the vaccine offer to those at higher risk, we hope to break chains of transmission and help contain the outbreak.
“Although most cases are mild, severe illness can occur in some people, so it is important we use the available vaccine to target groups where spread is ongoing.
She added: “The NHS will soon set out details on how this will be delivered, so do not come forward for the vaccine yet.
“In the meantime, everyone should continue to be alert to any new spots, ulcers or blisters on any part of their body, particularly if they’ve had close contact with a new partner.