Heard about monkeypox? | News and events

Heard about monkeypox? | News and events

Main Menu

Nelft logo

News

NELFT NHS Foundation Trust provides a range of  community health and mental health services across the north east London Boroughs of Barking and Dagenham, Havering, Redbridge and Waltham Forest, Essex and Kent and Medway and Barnet.

Read the latest NELFT news, including information on our services, new trust staff, research and development of our services.

Heard about monkeypox?

UPDATED 1 JUNE 2022

The latest cases, as of 30 May, bring the total number confirmed in England since 7 May to 183. The risk to the UK population remains low, but we are asking people to be alert to any new rashes or lesions, which would appear like spots, ulcers or blisters, on any part of their body.

As you will know, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) are advising gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men to be particularly careful and vigilant with regards to monkeypox, as cases remain predominantly in these communities.

It is important to state that stigmatising people because of a disease is never ok and we are taking a zero-tolerance approach towards this. 

To be clear, anyone can get or pass on monkeypox, regardless of their sexuality. It is not classified as an STI but is often spread from person to person through:

  • touching clothing, bedding or towels used by someone with the monkeypox rash
  • touching monkeypox skin blisters or scabs
  • the coughs or sneezes of a person with the monkeypox rash

This means anyone who has close contact with someone who is infectious is at risk. However, given that the virus is being identified in these communities, learning about monkeypox will help ensure that as few people as possible are affected and that the outbreak can be stopped.

UKHSA will post regular updates on gov.uk

Symptoms and advice

NHS Digital has updated the NHS.uk page on Monkeypox here, with further information on how symptoms, treatment and advice on how to approach NHS services if you have symptoms. Key advice on what to do if you have symptoms is as below:

Call 111 or contact a sexual health clinic if:

  • You have a rash with blisters and either:
  • you've been in close contact with someone who has or might have monkeypox (even if they've not been tested yet) in the past 3 weeks
  • you've been to west or central Africa in the past 3 weeks
  • you're a man who has sex with men

Tell the person you speak to if you've had close contact with someone who has or might have monkeypox, or if you've recently travelled to central or west Africa.

Do not go to a sexual health clinic without contacting them first. Stay at home and avoid close contact with other people until you've been told what to do.

Support for gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM)

UKHSA has published an FAQs which contains the below advice. Download it here: Monkeypox Q&A.pdf [pdf] 495KB

Why have you specified the sexuality of the cases?

The most recent cases are predominantly in gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men. They have no travel links to a country where monkeypox is endemic, so it is possible they acquired the infection through community transmission. As the virus spreads through close contact, we are asking these groups to be alert to any unusual rashes or lesions on any part of their body and to contact a sexual health service if they have concerns.

What are you doing to inform people of the risks of this disease now it appears to be spreading more widely?

We are urging men in gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men to be aware of any unusual rashes or lesions and contact a sexual health service without delay. We are contacting any potential close contacts of the cases to provide health information and advice.

UKHSA and the NHS have well established and robust infection control procedures for dealing with cases of imported infectious disease and these will be strictly followed.

Do condoms prevent you catching or passing on monkeypox?

We always encourage use of condoms to prevent STIs. Monkeypox is not a sexually transmitted infection by nature, though it can be passed on by direct contact during sex. Contagious lesions, through which infections are most likely to be passed on, can appear on any part of the body so condoms will not necessarily prevent transmission of the virus between two people who are in direct contact. The infection can also be passed on through contact with clothing or linens used by an infected person.

Published 23 May 2022

You may have heard about monkeypox in the news recently. But what is it, what are the symptoms and how can you access help and information?

Monkeypox is a rare illness caused by the monkeypox virus and one of the symptoms is a rash that is sometimes confused with chickenpox. It is usually associated with travel to Central or West Africa but cases have been occurring in England with no travel links.

Monkeypox can be spread when someone comes into close contact with an infected person. The virus can enter the body through broken skin, the respiratory tract or through the eyes, nose or mouth.

If you get infected with monkeypox, it usually takes between five and 21 days for the first symptoms to appear. Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion.

A rash can develop, often beginning on the face, then spreading to other parts of the body. The rash changes and goes through different stages - a bit like chicken pox - before finally forming a scab, which later falls off.

The virus can spread if ther is close contact between people through:

  • touching clothing, bedding or towels used by someone with the monkeypox rash
  • touching monkeypox skin blisters or scabs
  • the coughs or sneezes of a person with the monkeypox rash

Anyone with concerns that they could be infected should see a health professional but make contact with the clinic or surgery ahead of a visit. NHS 111 can also give advice.

UKHSA is investigating the recent cases in England. A notable proportion of early cases detected have been in in gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men. and so UKHSA is urging this community in particular to be alert to any unusual rashes or lesions and to contact a sexual health service without delay.

UKHSA will post regular updates on gov.uk.