The NHS have confirmed that the first case of monkeypox has been detected in Northern Ireland, which is also the first case on the island of Ireland.
Health officials in Northern Ireland are expected to hold a briefing this afternoon. There has been a worryingly high rise in cases all over the world in recent weeks, with UK cases rising to 70 patients on May 24.
However, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) have stated that the overall risk to the UK public “remains low”.
Monkeypox is a viral disease which primarily affects rodents and monkeys in areas of West and Central Africa. It’s related to the smallpox virus and can occasionally be transmitted to humans.
Instances where monkeypox spreads to different areas across the world are rare, which is why this particular outbreak is unusual and worrying. Parents needn’t be alarmed about this virus though, as medical professionals have previously said that cases of monkeypox within children are rare.
When speaking to Metro, Dr David Porter, a paediatric infectious diseases consultant at Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, said, “In all the previous outbreaks that have occurred outside of Africa over the last few years, we’ve seen very rare numbers of cases in children, so it’s been predominantly in adults.”
“As a parent with a child that might develop a rash, I don’t think parents should be worried about this being… monkeypox at this stage, because we’re seeing a very low number of cases,” another researcher stated.
Symptoms of monkeypox start out as a fever, then general body aches which lead to a nasty rash. People who have monkeypox may become contagious from the first signs of fever all the way through until their rash heals or their skin begins to scab.
It’s transmitted through close contact with an infected person. However, men who have sex with other men have been given an urgent warning to be aware of the symptoms, especially if they have a new sexual partner.
It can also be transmitted via contact with contaminated materials like clothing or bedding. If you think you have been infected with monkeypox, you’re advised to contact your GP or healthcare provider immediately, to seek testing and treatment options.