HSE team created to prepare Ireland for monkeypox infections

HSE team created to prepare Ireland for monkeypox infections

THE HSE has established a Monkeypox Incident Management Team, and has said that it is possible cases of the virus will be seen in Ireland.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland Dr Derval Igoe, Interim Director of the Health Protection Surveillance Centre, also said that there are cases currently arising in Europe without a link to Africa.

Monkeypox is a viral disease that normally causes mild flu-like symptoms and a rash that eventually crusts over and heals. However, some people are presenting with just a rash.

The virus can be spread through close skin contact or through bodily fluids and respiratory droplets.

"It is possible, given what we are seeing, where there may be some silent chains of transmission that we may see some cases in Ireland," Dr Igoe said.

"For that reason, we have set up this incident management team so that we are fully prepared for that eventuality and that all aspects of the system known what to do to prevent further spread."

Belgium has become the first country to introduce a compulsory 21-day quarantine for monkeypox patients after reporting four cases of the disease in the last week.

Dr Igoe said it is important to isolate and identify the contacts of a person who has become infected with the virus.

"Within the current increase that we have seen, there have been no deaths and there have only been two hospitalisations worldwide due to an illness," she explained.

"We do have a lot of a lot of different professional groups working on this," she said.

"We have our sexual health and infectious disease experts in the hospitals, also our national isolation unit, the virus reference lab, national immunisation office and the Department of Health."

In the UK, a total of 20 cases of monkeypox have been identified up to Friday.

Government guidance now says close contacts of cases with the highest risk of exposure should self-isolate for 21 days.