Monkeypox symptoms differ from previous outbreaks – UK study

  • Monkeypox patients in the UK have noticeably different symptoms to those seen in previous outbreaks, raising concerns that cases are being missed.
  • One study found that patients reported less fever and fatigue and more skin lesions in their genital and anal areas than are normally seen with monkeypox.
  • The study also found that a quarter of monkeypox patients were HIV positive and a quarter had another STI.

Monkeypox patients in the UK have noticeably different symptoms than those seen in previous outbreaks, according to researchers in London, ignoring concerns.

Patients reported less fever and fatigue and more skin lesions in their genital and anal areas than are normally seen in monkey pox, the study of 54 patients at London sexual health clinics found in May this year.

Monkeypox, a generally relatively mild viral disease endemic to several countries in West and Central Africa, has caused more than 5,000 cases and one death outside those areas – mainly in Europe – since early May. According to the World Health Organization, cases have also risen in the countries where it is more likely to spread.

The London research, published in the Lancet Infectious Diseases Journal, follows suggestions from public health agencies such as the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that the outbreak — which spreads primarily among men who have sex with men — is presenting unusually.

The authors, from a number of institutions, including Chelsea & Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said the case definitions should be revised to avoid overlooking cases, especially as monkeypox other common sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as herpes and syphilis can “mimicking”. The study also found that a quarter of monkeypox patients were HIV positive and a quarter had another STI.

dr. Ruth Byrne, of the trust said:

Misdiagnosis of the infection can hinder appropriate intervention and prevent further transmission.

Monkeypox spreads through close contact, and researchers are trying to determine whether it can also be transmitted through semen, the classic definition of sexual transmission.

David Heymann, an infectious disease epidemiologist and WHO advisor on the outbreak, said it was important to control the spread without stigmatizing those affected.

“That includes working with populations at the highest risk to try to help them understand how easy it is to prevent this infection — simply by avoiding physical contact in the genital area.” [when a rash is present]he told Reuters.


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