Monkeypox warning as countdown continues to Wigan Pride

As Wigan gets ready to celebrate Pride this weekend and welcome visitors from across the UK, health leaders are urging people to be aware of monkeypox.

The virus is spreading around the country, with the first suspected case in Wigan reported nearly two months ago

While anyone can get monkeypox, the majority of cases identified in the UK are among gay, bisexual and men who have sex with men.

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The virus can be passed from person to person through close physical contact with monkeypox blisters or scabs.

Monkeypox.

This includes during sexual contact, kissing, cuddling, or holding hands, touching clothing, bedding or towels used by someone with monkeypox, and through the coughs or sneezes of an infected person.

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David Regan, director of public health for Manchester, speaking on behalf of the 10 Greater Manchester directors of public health, said: "If you have been in contact with someone who has monkeypox, or you think you have symptoms, you should contact your usual sexual health clinic or NHS 111 for a confidential conversation.

“Everyone deserves to have a safe and fun Pride, so before attending any group events, including bars, clubs and outside events, people should check themselves for monkeypox symptoms, including rashes and blisters.

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"If you have monkeypox symptoms, even just one spot, please stay at home and avoid close contact with other people until you’ve been given advice by a healthcare professional.”

Due to a limited vaccine supply nationally, sexual health services are contacting people who are at highest risk of monkeypox to invite them to get vaccinated.

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The UK Health Security Agency recommends the vaccination is offered to gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men at highest risk of getting monkeypox.

The vaccination will also be offered to people who have had recent close contact with an infected person and healthcare workers caring for or due to start caring for a patient with the virus.

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People who are known to sexual health services and eligible for a vaccine have been invited by phone call or text message to book an appointment or attend an invite-only walk-in clinic on a specific day to receive a dose, with further invites being made.

Further information can be found at nhs.uk/monkeypox