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First case of monkeypox confirmed in Republic

A suspected case is also being investigated and test results are awaited.

The monkeypox virus under a microscope
The monkeypox virus under a microscope
Image: PA

THE HSE HAS confirmed that the first case of monkeypox has been recorded in the State.

The HSE said the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) was notified last night of a confirmed case of the virus in the east of the country.

“This person has not been hospitalised. This was not unexpected following the presence of monkeypox cases in the UK and many European countries,” the health service said in a statement.

“Public Health is following up those who had close contact with the person with monkeypox while they were infectious. In order to maintain patient confidentiality, no further information about this person will be provided.

A suspected case is also being investigated and test results are awaited. A public health risk assessment has been undertaken, and those who were in contact with the person are being advised on what to do in the event that they become ill.

It comes as HSE Chief Executive Paul Reid confirmed that the health service had ordered smallpox vaccines to combat monkeypox and was considering a vaccination campaign for healthcare workers.

Health minister Stephen Donnelly said today that the vaccines will be offered to healthcare workers who will be working with patients who may have contracted the virus.

“There are vaccines coming in… A little over 200 cases reported in Europe, thankfully a very small number of them have been hospitalised. I’m advised that that’s where people had underlying conditions, [were] immunocompromised,” Donnelly told The Anton Savage Show on Newstalk.

The health minister noted that the virus is not airborne and is “not something that is easily caught.”

“Using the normal PPE and the normal procedures the trained clinicians would use, that’s the main line of defence… The focus is very much on containing it,” he said.

On Thursday, Northern Ireland recorded its first case of the virus, with the North’s public health agency saying that the discovery of the case was “not surprising” due to other cases being reported in other parts of the UK.

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The virus can be passed on through close person-to-person contact, or contact with items used by a person who has monkeypox, such as clothes, bedding or utensils. Monkeypox is usually a self-limiting illness and most people recover within a few weeks.

Additional reporting from Tadgh McNally

About the author:

Céimin Burke

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