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Number of monkeypox cases in Ireland rises to 97

Most cases here are not linked to travel from countries where the virus is endemic.

LAST UPDATE | 4 Aug 2022

THE NUMBER OF monkeypox cases in Ireland has risen to 97, according to new figures from the HPSC.

More than 25,000 cases of the virus have been confirmed in Europe, North America and other countries worldwide where it is not endemic.

The HPSC has said that the majority of confirmed cases in Ireland are not linked to travel from a country where monkeypox is endemic.

Many countries have reported that the cases are predominantly, but not exclusively, in men who have sex with men (MSM).
Speaking on RTÉ Radio’s Today With Claire Byrne, Dr Margaret Harris, a spokesperson for the World Health Organisation (WHO), said the virus was primarily transmitted by skin-to-skin contact, but it could be spread in other ways.

“It’s transmitted by close contact, so that’s skin to skin, it can be face to face, it can be mouth to mouth – it is sexually transmissible, that’s one of the ways in which it’s potentially transmitted but not, as far as we’ve seen in previous outbreaks, the main way.

“It’s something that anybody can get … you also have to look at things like bedding, clothing.”

She added that people with sores in their mouth could transmit the virus to others by coughing, sneezing or talking.

Last week, the Department of Health confirmed that a smallpox vaccine that has been approved for use against monkeypox would be rolled out to groups at high risk of infection.

The HSE has said that supplies of the jab are “low and limited” and the process for identifying who is at high risk has not been finalised.

Noting that anyone could contract monkeypox Dr Harris said that historically, the MSM community are “very good about looking at their health and reporting their health. They’re very, very health responsible

“This is a community we should admire … they have raised the alert by letting us know what was going on.”

Advocacy groups for gay and bisexual men have urged the government to ensure that vaccines are rolled out quickly.

An advocacy group told this publication that shame and stigma surrounding the virus will prolong the current outbreak.

For each case notified in Ireland, HSE public health teams are following up close contacts of people while they were infectious. Public health risk assessments have been undertaken, and those who were in contact with the cases are being advised on what to do in the event that they become ill.

A HSE statement issued last week said: “Although any person can get monkeypox following close contact with a case, many countries, including Ireland, have reported that the cases are now predominantly, but not exclusively, in men who self-identify as gay, bisexual or other men who have sex with men.”

Spain and Brazil both announced what they believed to be their first deaths related to the virus last week, with Spain reporting a second death the following day.

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