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Eleven more people in England have been diagnosed with monkeypox, bringing the cumulative number of UK cases to 207.
Announcing the new patients today, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) reiterated that most cases have been in gay and bisexual men.
Officials said it was ‘particularly important’ these men are aware of new lesions, rashes or scabs and get in contact with a sexual health clinic.
The new cases bring the total number confirmed in England to 199, while there have been five in Scotland, two in Northern Ireland and one in Wales.
Scientists are still unsure what is driving the current outbreak, now spotted in two dozen countries, given the virus is normally confined to people returning from Africa.
In a report published last night, the UKHSA revealed the UK’s cluster of cases are linked to gay bars, saunas and dating apps.
More than 60 per cent of domestic infections have been among gay and bisexual men, with more than 86 per cent based in the epicentre London. Only two cases have been women.
Most of the UK’s infections — 87 per cent — were among people aged 20 to 49. And 111 cases are known to be men who have sex with men.
And the majority UK patients caught the virus in the UK rather than abroad.
Officials said that contact tracing teams had linked the outbreak back to ‘gay bars, saunas and the use of dating apps in the UK and abroad’.
MailOnline revealed last week the world’s biggest gay dating app Grindr had alerted to users of monkeypox symptoms.
In total, there have been 617 confirmed cases of monkeypox across the globe, with 129 more suspected since the first infection was found at the start of May.
Behind the UK, Spain (156), Portugal (138) and Canada (54) have logged the highest number of confirmed cases.
Officials are urging gay and bisexual men to be aware of new lesions, rashes or scabs and get in contact with a sexual health clinic
The infection often starts with small bumps that scab over and are contagious
LONDON IS UK’S MONKEYPOX EPICENTRE AND JUST TWO WOMEN HAVE CAUGHT VIRUS
London has become the UK’s monkeypox epicentre.
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said more than 60 per cent of domestic infections have been among gay and bisexual men, with more than 86 per cent based in the epicentre London.
Only two cases have been women.
Most of the country’s infections — 87 per cent — were among people aged 20 to 49.
And 111 cases are known to be men who have sex with men.
Most of the UK patients caught the virus in the UK rather than abroad, which is significant because previously the tropical disease was confined to a small number of people with travel links to Africa.
In a report released on Wednesday night, the UKHSA released its first analysis, covering the country’s first 153 cases.
By May 31, 132 of the 153 cases in England were among London residents (86 per cent).
Only a fifth of cases had travelled from a European country in the past three weeks, suggesting the vast majority picked up the virus in the UK.
The report states: ‘Investigations to date have identified links to gay bars, saunas and the use of dating apps in the UK and abroad.
‘Investigations continue but currently no single factor or exposure that links the cases has been identified.’
MailOnline revealed that Grindr issued a warning to its users across Europe last Monday, advising them to contact their sexual health provider if they or any recent sexual partners have unusual sores or rashes.
UKHSA is working with the app as well as the British Association of Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) and the British HIV Association to communicate health risks to gay and bisexual men.
The current outbreak has been linked to several super-spreader events, including a gay pride festival in Gran Canaria on May 5-15, a fetish festival in Belgium on May 5-8 and a ‘sauna’ in Spain.
It comes as amid concern among health experts that monkeypox could be transmitted to animals via human medical waste.
As the virus circulates outside of Africa, there is an opportunity for spill back into animal populations, which could potentially make the virus endemic in countries beyond Africa.
Dr William Karesh, president of the World Organization for Animal Health told a conference today: ‘As we’ve seen with COVID-19, one thing that comes up is… disposable human medical waste because we are concerned about rodents picking this up.’
‘Like a rural local clinic that’s putting their waste outside until it’s disposed of properly later in the week,’ he added.
Countries in Africa have experienced sporadic monkeypox outbreaks since the virus was first discovered in humans in 1970. In Nigeria, there has been an ongoing outbreak since 2017.
The virus was discovered in laboratory monkeys in 1958, and since then various animal species including squirrels and rats have been identified as susceptible to it.
It is understood to have jumped to humans from the animals it which it circulates, but which species are implicated in the spillover remains unclear, Dr Karesh said.
In the UK, pet rodents of people infected with monkeypox are being isolated as part of efforts to contain the disease.
These include pet hamsters, rats and rabbits.
Teams from the UKHSA are also contacting high-risk contacts of confirmed cases and advising them to self-isolate at home for three weeks and avoid contact with children.
Both confirmed cases and close contacts are being offered the Imvanex vaccine to form a buffer of immune people around a confirmed case to limit the spread of the disease.
The strategy, known as ring vaccination, has been used in previous monkeypox outbreaks and is also being carried out in some EU countries.
Professor Kevin Fenton, London regional director for public health said: ‘Monkeypox can affect anyone but we know that many of the most recent diagnoses are in gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men, many of whom live in, or have links to London.
‘We’re reminding everyone of the symptoms of monkeypox, and especially gay and bisexual men in particular, to be especially aware and seek advice immediately by calling NHS 111 or their local sexual health clinic if they have concerns.
‘As with any new disease outbreak, the risk of stigma and uncertainty is great.
‘This is why we’re working side by side with the NHS, sexual health, voluntary and community sector organisations in London to share accurate information about monkeypox especially to people and groups at increased risk through representative voices.’
Timeline of monkeypox
1958: Monkeypox was first discovered when an outbreak of a pox-like disease occurred in monkeys kept for research.
1970: The first human case was recorded in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the infection has been reported in a number of central and western African countries since then.
2003: A Monkeypox outbreak occurred in the US after rodents were imported from Africa. Cases were reported in both humans and pet prairie dogs. All the human infections followed contact with an infected pet and all patients recovered.
SEPTEMBER 8, 2018: Monkeypox appeared in the UK for the first time in a Nigerian naval officer who was visiting Cornwall for training. They were treated at the Royal Free Hospital in London.
SEPTEMBER 11, 2018: A second UK monkeypox case is confirmed in Blackpool. There is no link with the first case in Cornwall. Instead, the patient is though to have picked up the infection when travelling in Nigeria. They were treated at Blackpool Victoria Hospital and Royal Liverpool University Hospital.
SEPTEMBER 26, 2018: A third person is diagnosed with monkeypox. The individual worked at Blackpool Victoria Hospital and treated the second Monkeypox case. They received treatment at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle.
DECEMBER 3, 2019: A patient was diagnosed with monkeypox in England, marking the fourth ever case.
MAY 25, 2021: Two cases of monkeypox were identified in north Wales. Both patients had travel links to Nigeria.
A third person living with one of the cases was diagnosed and admitted to hospital, bringing the total number ever to seven.
MAY 7, 2022: A person was diagnosed with Monkeypox in England after recently travelling to Nigeria. The person received care at the expert infectious disease unit at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust in London.
MAY 14, 2022: Two more cases were confirmed in London. The infected pair lived in the same household but had not been in contact with the case announced one week earlier.
One of these individuals received care at the expert infectious disease unit at St Mary’s Hospital in London. The other isolated at home and did not need hospital treatment.
MAY 16, 2022: Four more cases were announced, bringing the UK total to seven. Three of these cases are in London, while one of their contacts is infected in the north east of England.
The spate of cases was described as ‘unusual’ and ‘surprising’ as experts warn gay and bisexual men to look out for new rashes.
MAY 19, 2022: Two more cases were revealed, with no travel links or connections to other cases. The cases were based in the South East and London. Fears began to grow that infections are going undetected.
MAY 20, 2022: Eleven more cases are announced, meaning Britain’s monkeypox outbreak have doubled to 20. Minsters discuss the possibility of a public health campaign to warn gay men the disease may be more prevalent for them
MAY 23, 2022: Scotland logs its first ever monkeypox case and 36 more infection announced in England. It brings the UK total to 57.
MAY 24, 2022: England logs another 14 cases, bringing the UK total to 71.
MAY 25, 2022: Another seven infections are spotted in England, meaning 78 cases have been detected in the UK.
MAY 26, 2022: Wales and Northern Ireland detect their first monkeypox case in the recent outbreak, while Scotland spots two more cases and England logs eight, bringing UK total to 90.
MAY 27, 2022: England detects 16 more cases, meaning 106 people in Britain have confirmed infections.
MAY 29, 2022: World Health Organization (WHO) says risk of monkeypox is ‘moderate’, citing concerns about virus infecting children and immunosuppressed people if it becomes more widespread.
MAY 30, 2022: The UK detects another 71 monkeypox cases, bringing the UK total to 179. Cases jumped 70 per cent in just three days.
MAY 31, 2022: Eleven infections are spotted across the UK, bringing the infection toll to 190.
JUNE 1, 2022: Another five cases are spotted in England and one is detected in Scotland, meaning the UK has now logged 196.
JUNE 2, 2022: Another 11 cases are detected in England, bringing the UK total to over 200.