Monkeypox Scotland: What is monkeypox and how worried should we be as first case identified?

The first case of monkeypox has been detected in Scotland, Public Health Scotland (PHS) has confirmed.

But what is the condition and how worried should we be about its spread?

PHS said the person is being managed and treated in line with national protocols and guidance.

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The overall risk to the public is low, said medical and public health science director Dr Nick Phin.

But he urged anyone with an unusual blister-like rash or small number of blister-like sores on any part of their body to avoid close contact with others and seek medical advice.

It comes after 20 cases of monkeypox were confirmed elsewhere in the UK last week, with more expected.

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Monkeypox Scotland: First case of monkeypox confirmed in Scotland

Monkeypox is usually found in West Africa, which is why the recent outbreak in the UK is unusual. The condition is usually mild, but can also cause serious illness.

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The Scotsman - Edinburgh Evening News Staff byline. Reporter Elsa Maishman By-Line Portrait Head Shot headshot

Symptoms include fever, headaches, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion.

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A rash, which can look like chickenpox or syphilis, can develop. This often begins on a patient’s face and can then spread to other parts of the body, including the genitals.

Monkeypox can spread through touching clothing, bedding or towels used by someone with the rash, and through coughs and sneezes. It isn’t normally a sexually-transmitted infection (STI), but it can be spread through contact during sex.

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The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) is advising people, particularly those who are gay, bisexual or who have sex with men, to be alert to any unusual rashes or lesions on any part of their body.

In this Centers for Disease Control and Prevention handout graphic, from 2003, symptoms of one of the first known cases of the monkeypox virus are shown on a patient?s hand May 27, 2003. Photo Courtesy of CDC/Getty Images
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The World Health Organisation (WHO) is understood to be convening emergency meetings on the issue.

However, experts do not believe the new spread of cases is anything like as concerning as the early days of Covid.

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While monkeypox is a virus, and it can be spread through coughing and sneezing, it is not an unknown entity like Covid was – it is just unusual in Europe.

There are some treatments used to relieve monkeypox symptoms and, crucially, there is already a vaccine. Some contacts of cases of monkeypox in Scotland may be offered this.