Confirmed monkeypox cases reach almost 100 in Ireland

As the number of monkeypox cases continues to rise in Ireland, advocacy groups are calling for action on vaccination.

Monkeypox cases in Ireland are rising. In the photo, gloved hands working with test tubes.
Image: Tatiana via Pixabay

In a report published on August 3 by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC), 97 cases of monkeypox were confirmed in Ireland. Advocacy groups are calling for immediate action on monkeypox vaccination.

The latest information released by the HPSC states that there are currently 97 confirmed cases of monkeypox in Ireland, with the number rising to 109 if we consider both confirmed and probable cases, as detailed in another report.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) informed that cases of monkeypox worldwide stand at more than 23,000. The virus has now spread to a total of 83 countries, with most cases reported in Europe. The numbers are expected to increase also in America, where monkeypox has now been declared a disease requiring reporting.

Last week, the first confirmed deaths caused by monkeypox in countries where the virus is non-endemic were announced. In Ireland, no deaths related to monkeypox have been reported, though at least 10 people were hospitalised.

WHO disclosed that some of the people who died because of monkeypox had underlying conditions, however, others did not. “The way it is spreading in this global outbreak has never been seen before so we are seeing new manifestations of illness.” said Dr Rosamund Lewis, WHO technical lead on monkeypox “There can be the occasional condition such as encephalitis which we had reports in the media over the last few days. This is very tragic, it is not totally surprising.”

Another spokesperson for WHO and the expert on HIV, hepatitis and STIs, Andy Seale talked about the need to make self-testing an option for suspected monkeypox cases before it can cause more damage. “Because of these new presentations that we are seeing, we need to find more efficient ways. Ultimately, self-testing would be fantastic.” he said.

“We really do need to focus more – and I know there are teams already set up to do this – on improving testing. At the moment, the focus really is on swabbing lesions,” said Seale. He also spoke about how there has been “a lot of misinformation” around this virus.

“What we have found is despite the fact there are these several modes of transmission, it seems to be very efficiently passed through sexual activity,” he said “This sexual activity could be between any group of people but it has found its way into networks of people who are connected because they are having sex between men essentially.”

Seale also praised how strongly some communities reacted to the monkeypox outbreak and how effective their messaging on the matter has been. Indeed, in Ireland, the campaign led by MPOWER, Man2Man and HSE has been singled out by the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention and WHO as a best practice example for risk community and community engagement.

If you would like to find out more about monkeypox, you can watch the community discussion featuring experts and people living with the virus.

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