The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) is urging people to remain vigilant to monkey pox (mpox) ahead of the summer months, as the latest data shows an increase in cases in London over the past 4 weeks.
In an interim epidemiological update, a further 10 cases of mpox have been diagnosed in the UK since the last epidemiological update on 4 May. This brings the total number of new cases in the UK since the beginning of the year to 20.
All the cases were diagnosed within London, with half of them in unvaccinated individuals and 2 in those who had only received one dose. Five of the cases acquired the infection in the UK, 4 are thought to have acquired the infection abroad and one remains under investigation.
Vaccination has played a crucial role in protecting people and reducing case numbers. Those who are eligible but have not yet received 2 doses of the vaccine are being encouraged to come forward and book their first dose by 16 June 2023 and be booked in for their second dose by the end of July 2023.
Katy Sinka, Head of Sexually Transmitted Infections at UKHSA, said: "It is clear from these latest statistics that mpox has not gone away. While mpox infection is mild for many, it can cause severe symptoms for some so it’s important people remain alert to the risks. Vaccination is key to reducing the severity of symptoms and preventing further transmission. Uptake of first doses has been strong but only around a third of those who have received their first dose have had their second dose so far.
"The programme is coming to an end, so we strongly encourage everyone eligible to please come forward for a vaccination if you haven’t yet had one or 2 doses. Our aim is to eliminate this unpleasant disease from the UK entirely – vaccination and community action have worked very well to significantly reduce case numbers and we can’t let our guard down now."
Everyone at highest risk from mpox is eligible for 2 doses of the vaccine. UKHSA data has shown that one dose of the vaccine offers 78% protection against the virus from 14 days after receiving it; the second dose aims to provide longer term protection.
The UK was the first in the world to detect the outbreak, acting immediately to alert global health partners, control further transmission and secure vaccines for all those at highest risk in the UK. The government remains committed to sustaining reduced transmission of mpox and achieving the ultimate goal of eliminating transmission of the disease in the UK.
Those eligible for the vaccine include gay, bisexual or other men who have sex with men who have multiple sexual partners, participate in group sex or attend sex on premises venues. Staff who work in these premises are also eligible.