The Health Protection Monitoring Center (HPSC) has been notified of 97 confirmed cases of monkeypox since the outbreak began in Ireland in late May.
The infection is usually a “self-limiting illness,” meaning it goes away on its own, and most people recover within weeks, without the need for specific treatment.
However, serious illness can occur in people with very weak immune systems, pregnant women and very young children.
For each case notified in Ireland, HSE public health teams are following up close contacts of people while they are infectious.
The cases in Ireland are part of an ongoing multi-country outbreak of monkeypox, which includes more than 25,000 confirmed cases of the virus in Europe, North America and several other countries around the world.
Several countries, including Ireland, have reported that cases are mainly, but not exclusively, in men who self-identify as gay, bisexual or other men who have sex with men (GBMSM).
Last week, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the multi-country outbreak of monkeypox a public health emergency of international concern.
The announcement comes with recommendations for countries with cases of monkeypox, such as Ireland, to strengthen their public health and clinical responses to prevent transmission, and stress the importance of engaging with affected communities.
Monkeypox is spread by close contact, including coming into contact with a rash on the skin of someone with the virus. People who interact closely with an infectious person are at higher risk of infection, including household members, sexual partners, and health workers. In general the risk of spreading within the community is very low.
Symptoms of the virus include an itchy rash, fever, headache, muscle and back pain, swollen lymph nodes, chills, and tiredness.
Smallpox vaccine is being used to combat outbreaks in Ireland, however, HSE has hindered vaccination of at-risk groups due to the “limited and low” supply of smallpox vaccine.
Meczyki Understands that HSE has in the region 1,000 to 2,000 doses of the MVA-BN drug and is trying to get more supplies through the same EU procurement methods used for the COVID-19 vaccine.
Due to the limited supply of vaccines, it has so far been offering vaccines only to close contacts after a risk assessment, and also to some healthcare workers who may be at risk of exposure through their work.
An HSE spokesperson confirmed this week, “HSE is now working to implement the regulatory advice in consultation with stakeholders, and is making plans to identify those most at risk and our need for vaccines.” The best way is to use up supplies.”
“Our aim is to ensure that a vaccine is offered to those at risk as soon as possible, and that we provide the best public health protection possible with the supplies available. Ireland, along with other EU countries, is actively exploring options to increase our medium to long-term supply of vaccines.
Speaking on RTE TODAY with Claire Byrne The program, WHO’s Dr Margaret Harris said, is recommending that vaccines be given to people “at risk”, such as close contacts of confirmed cases and health care work that provides care to people in at-risk groups. are.
Dr Harris said members of the gay community have led the public health response by sharing information about the virus.
“The communication we’re seeing is pretty excellent. So much better, I have to admit, what we usually produce. We’re in awe and back in Australia back in the day when I was a very young doctor, It was the same community that took the lead and was able to stop HIV and bring it under control through community engagement and behavior change. So, really this is a community we should admire. They reduced the risk Well, they have raised the alert by letting us know what is happening,” she said.
“For someone who knows or thinks they are at risk, or knows or thinks they are in contact, reducing or limiting their partners will make a big difference.”
Dr Harris said it is most effective when the public health message comes from affected communities.
“It should come from who is affected and who is likely to be affected. It doesn’t make sense when it comes from global bodies. It means a lot more, if it is coming from within the group that is currently most affected,” she said.
Meanwhile, Social Democrats health spokesman Roisin Shortall has urged Health Minister Stephen Donnelly to clarify when the monkeypox vaccination program will be launched.
He said France has already given 42,000 doses of the vaccine, while a dedicated vaccination center opened in Paris this week. The UK announced its vaccination schedule in June itself.
“There are now 97 confirmed cases of monkeypox in Ireland and this number is set to increase in the coming days and weeks. The minister should clarify when the vaccination program announced last week will start.