Monkeypox: Doctors warn of ‘massive impact’ on sexual health services as staff self-isolate
A monkeypox outbreak in the UK could have a ‘massive impact’ on sexual health services, doctors have warned.
There are at least 20 confirmed cases of monkeypox in the UK, out of around 100 confirmed and suspected cases in Europe – according to the World Health Organisation.
Overworked clinic staff must self-isolate if they come into contact with someone infected with the contagious disease.
They are asking patients with symptoms to call them rather than seek help in person, to limit the spread of the virus.
Dr Claire Dewsnap, consultant in genitourinary medicine and chair of the UK Association for Sexual Health and HIV, told the BBC that sexual health clinics were “already under significant pressure” regardless of the consequences of staff self-isolation.
“This is already stretching the workforce and will have a huge impact if staff have to self-isolate if in close contact with an infected person [with monkeypox]said Dr. Dewsnap.
“I am concerned about the potential impact on access to sexual health in general,” she also said.
At least 12 of the 20 cases in the UK were discovered in London.
The BBC had reported: “In London, where most of the 20 identified cases in the UK have been detected, sexual health clinics have kept people out altogether.
But the Independent understands that only people with symptoms of monkeypox are advised against going to walk-in clinics.
The 56 Dean Street clinic in Soho, which specializes in services for LGBT clients, as well as treatment for heterosexuals, states on its website: attend.”
The clinic told the Independent that walk-in appointments have been restricted to emergencies for just over two years, but not because of the monkeypox outbreak.
Walk-in visits to 56 Dean Street have been limited – to victims of sexual assault or those in need of emergency contraception – due to the coronavirus pandemic, a staff member said.
The Rosehill Clinic – in Sutton, south London – has also stipulated that people with symptoms of monkeypox or who have been exposed to the virus should stay home.
The clinic’s website states: “Please do not come to the clinic if you have a fever and rash or if you have been in contact with anyone known to have a monkeypox infection.”
Monkeypox can be spread when a person is in close contact with an infected person. The virus can enter the body through damaged skin, eyes, nose or mouth. It can be transmitted through skin-to-skin contact during sex.
The majority of cases in the UK have been detected in gay and bisexual men, leading the UK Health Safety Agency to advise gay and bisexual men to be aware of any unusual rashes or lesions.
Most cases have been mild, but the disease can have more serious consequences in young children, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems.
On Friday, Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the UK was stocking up on doses of smallpox vaccine to help protect certain groups against the virus – as smallpox and monkeypox viruses are similar.