The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has announced that monkeypox is to be listed as a notifiable disease in law from 8 June 2022.
This means all doctors in England are required to notify their local council or local Health Protection Team (HPT) if they suspect a patient has monkeypox.
Laboratories must also notify the UKHSA if the monkeypox virus is identified in a laboratory sample.
But how many monkeypox cases are there in the UK and where were the identified?
Here’s what you need to know.
How many monkeypox cases are there in the UK?
Currently, there are 452 confirmed cases of monkeypox in England, 12 in Scotland, 2 in Northern Ireland and 4 in Wales, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has said.
The first monkeypox infection in England was confirmed on 7 May 2022. The patient had a recent travel history from Nigeria, which is where they are believed to have contracted the infection, before travelling to the UK.
Two additional cases of monkeypox were then identified in London on 14 May. The cases live together in the same household and are not linked to the previous confirmed case, but where and how they acquired their infection remains under investigation.
A further four cases of monkeypox were then detected on 16 May, three being in London and one linked case in the North East of England.
The four new cases do not have known connections with the previous confirmed cases.
All four of these cases self-identify as gay, bisexual or other men who have sex with men (MSM).
Two more cases were then identified on 18 May - one in London and one in the South East of England.
They had no travel links to a country where monkeypox is endemic, so it is possible they acquired the infection through community transmission.
Eleven additional cases of monkeypox were then confirmed in England on 20 May.
On 23 May, 36 additional cases of monkeypox were identified in England, with one also identified in Scotland.
Fourteen further cases in England were then confirmed on 24 May.
On 25 May, seven cases of monkeypox were identified in England.
Eight more cases were confirmed in England on 26 May, with another two in Scotland, one in Wales and one in Northern Ireland.
First case of monkeypox identified in Ireland
The first confirmed case of monkeypox has been identified in Ireland, the Health Service Executive (HSE) has said.
The infection was reported in the east of the country on Friday (27 May) night and the person affected was not kept in hospital.
A further suspected case is also being investigated and test results are being awaited, health officials said.
A public health risk assessment has been undertaken and those who have been in contact with the person are being advised on what to do in the event that they become ill.
A statement from HSE said: “The Health Protection Surveillance Centre was notified last night of a confirmed case of monkeypox in Ireland, in the east of the country.”
“This was not unexpected following the presence of monkeypox cases in the UK and many European countries,” it added.
“Public Health is following up those who had close contact with the person with monkeypox while they were infectious.
“In order to maintain patient confidentiality, no further information about this person will be provided.”
Almost 200 cases have been reported in more than 20 countries not usually known to have outbreaks of the virus, according to the World Health Organisation.
What is the self-isolation advice for monkeypox?
New guidance from the UKHSA is urging anyone who has had direct or household contact with a confirmed case to isolate for 21 days.
Contacts are being advised to provide their details for contact tracing, not travel, and avoid contact with immunosuppressed people, pregnant women, and children under 12.
What are the symptoms of monkeypox?
The illness begins with:
- high temperature
- muscle aches
- swollen glands
A rash then usually begins one to five days after the first symptoms appear. The spots often start on the face before spreading to other parts of the body.
During the illness, the rash then changes from raised red bumps, to spots filled with fluid, with the spots eventually forming scabs which later fall off.