Monkeypox outbreak: More NI cases to be expected, says Chief Physician

The Chief Medical Officer said he was pretty sure Northern Ireland would see further cases of smallpox.

Professor Sir Michael McBride spoke after the first case of the virus was confirmed here on Thursday, which he said was “not unexpected”.

To protect patient confidentiality, no further details of the new case have been revealed.

Read more: Monkeypox Northern Ireland – first confirmed case in Northern Ireland

Monkeypox is usually associated with traveling to West Africa and is usually a self-limiting virus that is spread by very close contact with someone who has been infected.

The current risk to the population in NI is considered low due to the fact that the virus is not easily spread.

Speaking at a media conference on Thursday afternoon, Mr Michael McBride said: “The Public Health Agency (PHA) works closely with the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) and partner organizations across these islands regarding the identification of possible cases, probable cases, or indeed any contacts.

“The key messages are that this is not an infection that is easily spread among humans, but can be through close contact. The risk to the general population is considered low.”

He added: “Given the length of the incubation period and the number of cases we have seen across the UK, Europe and around the world, we will see more cases, there is no doubt about that.

“There will always be cases and indeed there are cases being investigated at this present moment in time. There is a very active process of contact tracking of anyone who has been in contact with a confirmed case and those cases will be actively followed by the PHA.”

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A multidisciplinary event management team (IMT) has also been established here to ensure this Northern Ireland is fully prepared for any possible risk to the population.

“We want to prevent this from establishing itself as an endemic infection in the UK as it is not unlike parts of West and Central Africa,” Sir Michael added.

“We have a very good chance of doing that by taking all the steps we are currently taking in line with that coordinated public health response.”

The CMO added that he did not expect this new virus to affect people’s daily lives as well as COVID-19.

“It is not as transmissible to humans as some of the other common viruses. It is not a virus that is established in the UK or Europe at the moment and we have a good chance of making sure it does not become established,” he said. .

“It’s about breaking the chains of infection by actively following cases and contacts. There’s every chance we’ll be able to interrupt and contain this.

“However it’s out and running a little ahead of us and we now obviously have to play catch-up due to the fact that it’s establishing itself and appearing in so many other countries.”

Dr. Gillian Armstrong, head of health care at the PHA, said officials worked closely with health professionals and physicians to raise awareness of the disease and arrange for test arrangements and clinical pathways.

Dr. Armstrong said most people who contract monkeypox will recover within a few weeks.

“It’s spread through very close person-to-person contact, or contact with things used by a person who has monkeypox, like sheets,” she added:

“We have established a multidisciplinary management team here to ensure that we would be fully prepared for eventual or confirmed cases.

“We would like to encourage anyone who thinks they may be at risk of exposure, especially those who have developed an unusual rash or injury to any part of their body, especially the genital area, and especially those who have a recent new sexual partner. , limit their contact with others and contact their doctor. “

The PHA has also worked with community and volunteer groups including Rainbow to raise awareness of monkeypox symptoms and action to take if anyone believes they were at risk of exposure.

“A remarkable proportion of the cases so far have been identified in gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men. We ask these men in particular to be aware of their symptoms,” Dr Armstrong said.

“We will do contact tracing to identify any of those who may be at risk for contacts who are advised to isolate themselves or who may be eligible for vaccination to prevent them from developing monkeypox.”

Initial symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headache, muscle aches, back pain, swollen lymph nodes, chills, and exhaustion.

A rash can form, often starting on the face, then spreading to other parts of the body including the genitals.

The rash changes and goes through different stages – it can look like chickenpox or syphilis, before finally forming a crust that then falls off.

Earlier this week, the UKHSA said people should be isolated for 21 days if they were in direct or home contact with a confirmed case.

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