Public Health Wales has today confirmed a case of monkeypox has been identified in Wales. The individual is receiving care and treatment and contact tracing is underway.
Monkeypox is a viral infection usually found in West and Central Africa and has been extremely rare in the UK. The confirmation of this case in Wales is not unexpected in light of the developing situation in the UK and in a number of countries around the world.
Public Health Wales is working with the public health agencies in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland to monitor and respond to potential and confirmed cases of monkeypox in the UK.
The virus does not usually spread easily between people. Monkeypox is passed on through very close contact with someone who is infected and has symptoms. The strain of the virus we are seeing in the UK is the milder version of the two documented strains. For most, it will be a self-limiting illness and people will recover within a few weeks but some people can experience severe illness. The overall risk to the general public is low.
Initial symptoms of monkeypox 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, including the genitals. The rash goes through different stages – it can look like chickenpox or syphilis, before finally forming a scab, which later falls off.
I urge anyone with an unusual rash or lesions on any part of their body, especially their genitals, to avoid close contact with others and call NHS 111 or their local sexual health service for advice. They are also advised to phone ahead before attending in person.
Everyone is being asked to be aware of monkeypox symptoms, but it’s particularly important gay and bisexual men are alert.
Anyone contacting services with symptoms may be required to be tested and I urge people to tell services about who they have had close contact with so we can ensure people get the right support and to help us limit the spread of this virus. Discussions will be treated sensitively and confidentially.
Depending on the extent of the contact with an infected person, people may be asked to self-isolate at home for up to 21 days and they may be offered a smallpox vaccine to reduce the risk of catching the virus.