UKHSA identifies new signs of monkeypox to look out for - what to do if you spot them
The case definition for monkeypox has been updated by UK health officials to include new symptoms to look out for.
UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has expanded the symptom list to now include a single lesion or lesions on the genitals, anus and surrounding area, lesions in the mouth, and symptoms of proctitis (anal or rectal pain or bleeding), especially if the individual has had a new sexual partner recently.
This will help both individuals and clinical professionals identify monkeypox symptoms.
The number of monkeypox cases in the UK is beginning to plateau, according to new figures.
There have been 2,859 cases of the illness recorded in the UK, with the majority being transmitted between gay and bisexual men, and men who have sex with other men, the UKHSA said.
What should I do if I spot symptoms?
Officials have said the majority of people with monkeypox can safely manage their symptoms at home, with no deaths from the virus in the UK.
However, although most people experience mild disease, it can cause a significant illness in some and may require hospitalisation.
Meera Chand, Director of Clinical and Emerging Infections at UKHSA, said: "We continue to see new diagnoses of monkeypox, passed on primarily through close or sexual contact.
"We have updated our case definitions to reflect the clinical presentations that have been seen during this outbreak. It is important to recognise that just one or two genital or anal lesions, or lesions in the mouth can be signs of monkeypox, especially if you have had a new sexual partner. If you think you have monkeypox, stay at home and contact 111 or your local sexual health service for advice.
"There is still a need to be cautious and stay alert for symptoms. For many people symptoms can be mild but for some people, hospital treatment may be required."
However, Dr Meera Chand said that despite the early signs of a plateau the public must “remain vigilant”.
She said: “While the most recent data suggest the growth of the outbreak has slowed, we cannot be complacent. Be vigilant of and check yourself for monkeypox symptoms, including rashes and blisters.
"If you are concerned that you may have monkeypox symptoms, take a break from events, meeting with friends or having sexual contact. Instead, stay at home and contact 111 or your local sexual health service for advice.
“The smallpox vaccine is being offered to individuals at higher risk of coming into contact with monkeypox in order to offer them protection and to reduce the spread of disease.”
The NHS said you should call a sexual health clinic if you have a rash with blisters, anal pain or bleeding from your bottom and have either:
been in close contact, including sexual contact, with someone who has or might have monkeypox (even if they've not been tested yet) in the past three weekshad one or more new sexual partners in the past three weeksbeen to west or central Africa in the past three weeks
Stay at home and avoid close contact with other people, including sharing towels or bedding, until you've been told what to do and call the clinic before visiting.
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.