As you will no doubt have seen about Monkeypox in the media Public Health Northamptonshire is taking steps to re-assure and advise our Northamptonshire residents, as well as to provide guidance as to what to do if they believe they may be infected.
Monkeypox remains very rare in the United Kingdom, but in recent cases there don’t appear to be travel links to the countries where the disease is more common. Because of this the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) which was formerly Public Health England, is rapidly investigating travel links with the countries where the disease is more common and detailed contact tracing is happening to follow-up of individuals who have come into contact with these recent cases.
Monkeypox can spread human to human through touching clothing, towels or bedding used by someone with monkeypox rash. Another route to infection is through touching an individual with monkeypox’s skin lesions (blisters) or scabs. An individual with monkeypox can also transmit the infection to someone else through coughing or sneezing. And it can also be passed on via contact during sex.
If infected with Monkeypox, it usually takes between five and 21 days for the first symptoms to appear which can be: Fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills, and exhaustion. Usually, rashes appear within five days after the first symptom, starting on the face and then spreading to other parts of the body. The rash may be confused with chickenpox. In common with chickenpox the rash turns into blisters before scabbing and the scabs falling off. Symptoms usual clear up in two to four weeks and the illness is usually mild, with little treatment needed, however antivirals may be used.
A number of the new cases have been identified among gay and bisexual men. Even though it is not normally treated as a sexually transmitted infection, it can be passed on by direct contact.
Dr Annapurna Sen, Consultant for Public Health Northamptonshire with responsibility for Infection Protection Control says: “Currently there are no cases in Northamptonshire, nor in the East Midlands region, however the UKHSA is investigating a number of cases of monkeypox in the UK. They are examining the source of these infections and contact tracing individuals that the Monkeypox cases have come into contact with.
“We are seeking to reassure local residents and provide advice as to what steps to take if they believe they may have been infected. In particular to be aware of any unusual rashes or lesions (blisters)”
If you think you have Monkeypox symptoms - however mild - contact your local sexual health service, for those in the North of the county on 01536 410647 or South of the county on 01604 609766. Or call 111 for advice. NHS 111 can also give advice.
Anyone with concerns that they could be infected should see a health professional. Please don’t just turn up at a sexual health clinic or surgery, do contact them ahead of your visit. Avoid close contact with others until you have been seen by a clinician and told it is not monkeypox. (Your call or discussion will be treated sensitively and confidentially)
You can also help slow the spread of the outbreak by reporting your potential case to East Midlands UKHSA on 0344 225 4524 and Northamptonshire Health Protection Team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org