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Health / Monkeypox poses ‘incredibly small’ risk to country, local health chief says

NHS Shetland chief executive Michael Dickson says it is very unlikely that the recent number of cases of monkeypox in the UK will turn into anything like a “Covid-19 situation”.

A total of three cases of the rare viral infection have been confirmed in recent days in Scotland, with more than 80 across the UK.

Initial symptoms of monkeypox include fever and headaches, and a blistering rash usually starts soon after.

The risk of catching it is low, and it is usually a mild illness. However, in some cases people may require hospital treatment.

People who are diagnosed with monkeypox need to isolate.

Speaking in a Facebook livestream this week, Dickson said monkeypox has been around since the 1950s and is similar to chickenpox.

He said the risk to the country from the infection – which mainly occurs in Africa – is “incredibly small”.

The health chief added that it is “way harder” to contract than Covid.

Smallpox vaccine, cidofovir, and tecovirimat can be used to control outbreaks of monkeypox.

“It will get lots of media coverage, it’s a big story because it’s unusual…but it’s unbelievably unlikely it’s going to turn into a Covid-19 situation,” Dickson said, adding that “everyone can be calm”.

NHS Shetland interim director of public health Dr Susan Laidlaw told Shetland News: “NHS Shetland is following the national guidance in relation to Monkeypox.

“Although usually associated with parts of Africa, there have been cases recently identified in the UK and across Europe where the infection has been spread by close contact with an infected person.

“Anyone who believes that they have been in contact with someone with Monkeypox and are displaying symptoms, should avoid contact with others and are then urged to seek medical advice.”

More information can be found on the NHS Inform website.