Monkeypox cases rise as UKHSA issues fresh advice for those with unexplained spots, blisters or rashes
People are being asked to remain alert to new blisters, ulcers or spots on their body as the UK Health Security Agency confirms another 71 cases of monkeypox have been found in England.
As fresh rules are also released for anyone who may have come into contact with the virus - or who is caring for a patient who could have monkeypox - those with unexplained rashes or legions should also stay vigilant say health officials.
Since May 7 there have been 183 cases of monkeypox in England, 4 in Scotland, 2 in Northern Ireland and 1 in Wales.
While the majority of cases so far have been identified in men who are gay, bisexual or men who have sex with men, anyone who has recently had a new partner or who notices unusual lesions appear on their skin should seek medical advice while those who are close contacts of a case could be asked to self-isolate for 21 days if it is thought they could be carrying the virus.
As case numbers rise and the outbreak spreads, new guidance has also been released by the UKHSA telling people what they must do if they suspect they're unwell.
This includes those who have possible, probable or confirmed monkeypox isolating at home if they're well enough while adopting stringent cleaning and disinfection methods to reduce transmission, which includes washing clothing and bedding regularly and avoiding contact with others until wounds have healed and scabs have dried off.
While those who may need to travel to seek healthcare should only do so if their lesions are covered by cloth, they wear a face covering, avoid public transport where possible and ring ahead to confirm an appointment.
The UK has now bought more than 20,000 doses of smallpox vaccine Imvanex which is currently being offered to identified close contacts of those diagnosed with monkeypox to reduce the risk of further symptomatic infection and severe illness.
Medical staff treating monkeypox patients are wearing PPE but where possible, say health officials, pregnant healthcare worker and those who are severely immunosuppressed should now not assess or care for those with either suspected or confirmed monkeypox.
Dr Ruth Milton, Senior Medical Advisor at UKHSA, said: "We are continuing to work closely with our colleagues in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to ensure we are aligned in our approach to reducing the risk of transmission of monkeypox in the UK.
"We are reminding people to look out for new spots, ulcers or blisters on any part of their body. If anyone suspects they might have these, particularly if they have recently had a new sexual partner, they should limit their contact with others and contact NHS 111 or their local sexual health service as soon as possible, though please phone ahead before attending in person. This will help us to limit the virus being passed on."