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Scottish health officials liaise in contact tracing over monkeypox case

Health officials are monitoring the situation (Hannah McKay/PA)
Health officials are monitoring the situation (Hannah McKay/PA)

Health officials in Scotland are involved in contact tracing a “small number of individuals” linked to the monkeypox case identified in England.

A case of monkeypox was announced south of the border on Saturday in a patient with a recent travel history from Nigeria, which is where they are believed to have contracted the infection before travelling to the UK.

Public Health Scotland (PHS) said it is liaising with the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) as part of the contact tracing process.

Monkeypox is a rare viral infection that does not spread easily between people and is usually a mild self-limiting illness, however some people can experience severe illness.

The UKHSA said it was working closely with NHS colleagues and contacting people who might have been in close contact with the individual to provide information and health advice.

This includes contacting a number of passengers who travelled in close proximity to the patient on the same flight to the UK.

A PHS spokesman said: “Public Health Scotland is liaising with the UK Health Security Agency over the contact tracing of a small number of individuals related to the monkeypox case identified in England.

“This is a standard and precautionary exercise and the risk to the general public remains very low.”

The patient in England has been cared for in the infectious disease unit at the Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, London.

The first UK case of monkeypox was recorded in September 2018 in an individual who was also believed to have contracted the infection in Nigeria.

Initial symptoms include fever, headache, aching muscles, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion.

A rash can also develop, usually starting on the face before spreading to other parts of the body. It eventually forms a scab which falls off.

Dr Colin Brown, director of clinical and emerging infections at UKHSA, said: “It is important to emphasise that monkeypox does not spread easily between people and the overall risk to the general public is very low.”

He added: “UKHSA and the NHS have well-established and robust infection control procedures for dealing with cases of imported infectious disease and these will be strictly followed.”

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