Monkeypox: has it been confirmed in NI and what are the symptoms?

As concern rises over the spread of monkeypox in the UK, the Public Health Agency (PHA) has said there have been no confirmed cases in Northern Ireland.
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The agency said it is aware of the cases of monkeypox in England and is in regular contact with UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) regarding the situation.

A multidisciplinary incident management team (IMT) has been established to ensure that the PHA is fully prepared for any potential risk to people in Northern Ireland.

What is monkeypox and how do you get it?

Dr Gillian Armstrong, Head of Health Protection at the PHA, said: “Monkeypox is usually a mild self-limiting illness and most people recover within a few weeks.

“The infection can be passed on through close contact with someone with the infection, or contact with clothing or linens used by a person who has monkeypox.

“However, the virus does not usually spread easily between people and the risk to the Northern Ireland population is considered low.”

What should you do if you think you have contracted monkeypox?

Anyone who thinks they have been at risk of exposure with unusual rashes or lesions on any part of their body, especially their genitalia, should contact their local healthcare provider or GUM clinic without delay if they have concerns.

Please phone first ahead of a visit to a healthcare facility.

A notable proportion of recent cases in England and Europe have been found in gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men, so the PHA is particularly encouraging them to be alert to the symptoms and seek help if concerned.

“We can assure them their call or discussion will be treated sensitively and confidentially,” a spokesperson said.

Clinicians should be alert to individuals presenting with rashes without a clear alternative diagnosis and should contact specialist services for advice.

What are the symptoms?

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

A rash can develop, often beginning 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 scab which later falls off.

For further information on monkeypox see