virus fears | 

Irish patients who catch monkeypox may have to isolate for 21 days, top professor claims

Monkeypox - a less severe disease compared to its cousin smallpox - is endemic in 11 countries in West and Central Africa.

The condition results in blisters on the body, which then scab over (UKHSA/PA)

Niall Donald

A leading immunologist has claimed Irish people who catch Monkeypox may have to self-isolate for 21 days.

Yesterday, the first confirmed case of the virus on the island of Ireland was recorded by Northern Ireland’s Public health Agency.

The virus causes a rash and fever, however, the symptoms are generally mild for most people.

Speaking to Newstalk, UCC Immunovirology Professor Liam Fanning said the HSE has an expert group ready to act if the illness is found here.

He said any patient diagnosed with the virus has a long period of isolation ahead of them.

“It will be down to kind of a bit like we had with COVID-19,” he said.

“Public health contacting people and isolation,” he said.

“I see some countries in Europe have asked that people who are virus positive would quarantine for 21 days and that reflects the kind of natural history of this infection – where individuals can be infectious for that amount of time.”

Symptoms: Blisters are one of the signs of monkeypox

Professor Fanning also described Monkeypox as a “very containable infection” and the public should not be overly concerned.

He said he would not be surprised if it arrives in the Republic in the next few days and weeks.

“Again, we’ll have to depend on colleagues in public health to advise the individuals who are affected as to what their symptoms might be and those who are close contacts,” he said.

“To reach out to them and say look, you know, you need to be aware that these are the possible symptoms and when you start to see little pimples appearing on your body - hands and face particularly and sometimes in the groin - that you need to pick up the phone and contact your health provider or GP.”

More than a dozen countries where monkeypox is unusual, mostly in Europe, have reported at least one confirmed case, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said in an epidemiological note released last night.

Monkeypox - a less severe disease compared to its cousin smallpox - is endemic in 11 countries in West and Central Africa.

It spreads by a bite or direct contact with an infected animal's blood, meat or bodily fluids, and initial symptoms include a high fever before quickly developing into a rash.

People infected with it also get a chickenpox-like rash on their hands and face.

No treatment exists, but the symptoms usually clear up after two to four weeks, and it is not usually fatal.

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