There are now 1,235 confirmed cases of monkeypox in the UK, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has confirmed, as it issued a warning ahead of Pride weekend.
The figure has risen by 159 cases since the last set of data, when 1,076 infections were reported up to 26 June.
Wendi Shepherd, monkeypox incident director at UKHSA, said: “The Monkeypox outbreak continues to grow. Our investigations and information from confirmed cases continue to show that the overwhelming majority of cases are in gay, bisexual or other men who have sex with men.
“This weekend, let’s enjoy Pride safely – before you go to any events or parties, check yourself for blister-like spots and rashes. Please don’t attend if you have monkeypox symptoms or feel unwell. If you have a rash or blisters, stay at home, phone a sexual health clinic, and get tested.
She added: “Please be vigilant for any monkeypox symptoms in the coming weeks – especially if you are having sex with someone new.
“To assist with our contact tracing, we encourage everyone to ensure they exchange contact details with sexual partners, to help us limit further transmission where cases occur.”
Monkeypox, which spreads through close contact and was first found in monkeys, mostly occurs in west and central Africa and rarely spreads elsewhere.
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The European Medicines Agency says it will begin reviewing data to decide if a smallpox vaccine can be authorised for monkeypox.
Anyone can get Monkeypox and it can spread from person to person through:
- touching clothing, bedding or towels used by someone with the monkeypox rash;
- touching monkeypox skin blisters or scabs (including during sex);
- the coughs or sneezes of a person with the monkeypox rash
More than 51 countries where monkeypox is not endemic have reported outbreaks of the viral disease as confirmed cases exceeded 5,000.
The World Health Organisation says it is deeply concerned by the number of cases increasing across Europe.
And this spike is putting pressure on sexual health clinics in Britain. These centres are often the first to come into contact with cases of monkeypox as it can present like a sexually transmitted infection.
The Association Of Directors Of Public Health is warning the pressure will mean people will suffer needlessly and their STIs will take longer to treat.