British health authorities said on Friday that the outbreak of monkeypox across the country may have peaked and that the rate of growth of the epidemic has slowed.
The UK’s Health Security Agency said in a statement there were “early signs that the outbreak is stabilizing”, with 2,859 cases detected since May. No deaths have been reported. Last month, authorities estimated that the size of the outbreak was doubling about every two weeks, but the number of new infections has declined in recent weeks.
“While the latest data suggests that the growth of the outbreak has slowed, we cannot be complacent,” said Dr. Mira Chand, director of clinical and emerging infections at the Health Security Agency. She said anyone who thinks they may have monkeypox should skip meeting friends and social gatherings and avoid sexual contact.
The Health Security Agency said its latest analysis of the outbreak “shows that monkeypox is still primarily transmitted in interconnected sexual networks of gay and bisexual men or men who have sex with men.” Over 70% of UK cases are in London.
British officials noted a small number of infections among women, but said there was not enough evidence to suggest a persistent spread of monkeypox beyond gay and bisexual men. 99% of all cases in the UK are in men.
Scientists who analyzed monkeypox viruses in the UK noted a number of mutations compared to viruses circulating in Africa, but said there was no evidence that genetic changes made monkeypox more transmissible.
Experts believe monkeypox outbreaks in North America and Europe may have originated in Africa long before the disease spread through sex in two raves in Spain and Belgium.
The World Health Organization said this week that 92% of monkeypox cases outside Africa are likely to be infected through sex The Director General of Gay and Bisexual Vulnerable Men recently appealed Consider reducing their sexual partners “at present.”
To date, more than 26,000 cases of monkeypox have been reported in nearly 90 countries, an increase of 19% in the past week.
in June, British authorities I sought them vaccination The strategy is to offer vaccinations not only to health workers treating monkeypox patients and high-risk contacts of patients, but to certain gay or bisexual men at high risk of contracting the virus, including those who have multiple sexual partners or who engage in group sex.
Last month, the UK lowered its assessment of the monkeypox outbreak and dropped a recommendation to isolate contacts of monkeypox cases for three weeks unless they showed symptoms. The change was driven by data showing that only a small number of contacts eventually contracted monkeypox and a lack of evidence that the disease spreads without close, intimate or sexual contact.
The United States on Thursday declared the monkeypox outbreak a national emergency, and the World Health Organization designated it a global emergency last month.
Monkeypox spreads when people have close physical contact with an infected person’s pests, their clothes, or bed linen. Most people recover without needing treatment, but the lesions can be very painful and more severe cases can lead to complications including encephalitis and death.