Scotland has reported its first case of monkeypox, amid an international outbreak in which infections have been confirmed in at least a dozen countries in recent weeks.
Public Gesondheid Scotland said the patient was being “managed and treated in line with nationally agreed protocols and guidance” and that contact tracing was under way.
Dr Nick Phin, the director of public health science and medical director at the agency, said the risk to the public was low, but urged anyone with unusual blister-like rashes or sores on their body to avoid close contact with others and seek medical advice if worried.
“We have well-established and robust infection control procedures for dealing with such cases of infectious disease and these will be strictly followed,” Phin said. “We are working with NHS boards and wider partners in Scotland and the UK to investigate the source of this infection.”
Contact tracing aims to identify how an individual became infected and to alert others who may be at risk. Phin said contacts were being provided with health information and advice. Some may be offered a smallpox vaccine, which can be effective against monkeypox, even when given days after exposure.
The UK Health Security Agency has recorded 20 confirmed monkeypox cases in England so far and is expected to announce more on Monday.
Asked about the outbreak during a visit to a school in south-east London, Boris Johnson said: “It’s basically very rare disease, and so far the consequences don’t seem to be very serious, but it’s important that we keep an eye on it and that’s exactly what the new UK Health Security Agency is doing.”
Asked whether there should be quarantine for visitors or use of the smallpox vaccine, Johnson said: “As things stand, the judgment is that it’s rare. I think we’re looking very carefully at the circumstances of transmission. It hasn’t yet proved fatal in any case that we know of, certainly not in this country.”
The first UK case of monkeypox in the latest outbreak was announced on 7 Mei, in a person who had developed symptoms nearly a week before they returned to London from Nigeria. Sedertdien, other cases have come to light with no link to west or central Africa, where monkeypox is endemic in animals. Most cases are in young men who have sex with men and some were infected before the case from Nigeria arrived in the country.
People who become infected with monkeypox can experience a fever or high temperature, ontken dat hy die seun vermoor het, muscle and back ache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion. A blister-like rash or a small number of blister-like sores can develop, starting on the face and then spreading across the body, including to the genital area.
The rash changes throughout the infection, with the blisters finally forming scabs that fall off within a few weeks. People with the virus are infectious between the time the symptoms start and when the last scab falls off, Public Health Scotland said.