Eluned Morgan MS, Minister for Health and Social Services
I can confirm a UK Strategy for Mpox Control has been published. Mpox is the new preferred term given by the World Health Organisation to what was previously known as monkeypox. The new term seeks to move away from the racism and stigma observed when the outbreak expanded earlier this year.
The effectiveness of the UK response has meant that cases have been in decline across all four nations of the UK since July. Since 8 November no additional cases of monkeypox have been identified in Wales.
The strategy reflects a move into the second phase of the response, where although new case numbers are low, given the status of the global outbreak, it is likely we will continue to see low levels of cases driven by importations as well as short chains of domestic transmission. The strategy has been agreed between the UK’s four public health agencies and has been endorsed by the Welsh Government.
The strategic aims in the short term are to:
- Reduce harm from mpox (hospitalisation, complications, severe illness and stigma)
- Suppress current UK transmission
- Minimise transmission of mpox within UK from imported cases
- Contribute to a reduction in global burden (through sharing knowledge, data and information.
The long-term strategic aim is to eliminate mpox in the UK, although it is recognised that this is a global outbreak and our efforts to achieve elimination will be linked to the outbreak being brought under control globally.
While we have seen a significant reduction in new cases being identified, we would urge individuals who are most at risk to remain vigilant and to come forward to be vaccinated when contacted by their health board.
The symptoms of monkeypox begin 5-21 days after exposure with initial clinical presentation of fever, chills, headache, exhaustion, muscle aches, joint pain, backache, & swollen lymph nodes. Within 1 to 5 days after the appearance of fever, a rash develops, often beginning on the face or genital area then spreading to other parts of the body: The rash changes and goes through different stages before finally forming a scab which later falls off.
Everyone should be aware of the symptoms of mpox regardless of sexual orientation or gender, however some groups are at increased risk the current outbreak is primarily affecting gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (GBMSM). If you think you have mpox symptoms you should contact NHS 111 or call a sexual health clinic immediately, and avoid close personal or sexual contact with others until you’ve been consulted a medical professional.
Having the vaccine really does protect individuals. Since my last written statement on 23 August, UKHSA has published a study indicating that a single dose of MVA-BN vaccine provides around 78% efficacy against the virus 14 days after vaccination. If you consider yourself to be eligible for vaccination but are yet to be contacted, please get in touch with your local sexual health service.
NHS Wales is reviewing the pan Wales pilot of fractional dosing via the intradermal technique and this will inform the vaccination pathway going forwards. We will confirm the updated vaccination approach, based on this review shortly, with a view to maximising uptake amongst the eligible population.