A TOP medic has given a hols warning for Brits heading away this summer as monkeypox spreads across Europe – and says children are more likely to become seriously ill.

Dr Susan Hopkins of Public Health England says more cases of the disease are being reported in the UK every day.

The virus can be significantly more harmful in young children, and it's reported that a British child who has contracted the illness is fighting for their life in intensive care.

In an interview on the BBC this morning, Dr Hopkins said: "We do know from reports from Africa, where the disease has circulated in outbreaks over many years, certain individuals are much more at risk of severe disease, including immuno-suppressed individuals or young children.

"In adults, it is relatively mild."

But she said medics are learning more every day, adding: "Clearly, this is a new infectious disease that we haven't seen in our community before.

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"We will need to learn a lot about it over the coming weeks."

As of Friday, there were 20 cases in the UK. That number is expected when the figures are updated tomorrow, and Dr Hopkins said: "We are detecting more cases on a daily basis."

She was then asked about the risk to Brits attending summer festivals, as well as children on sunshine holidays.

Countries including Spain, Portugal and central Africa are among those reporting outbreaks. On Friday, health chiefs in Spain reported 23 more confirmed cases. Most are linked to a sauna in Madrid.

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"The risk to the general population remains extremely low," she said – but added: "People need to be alert to it, and we really want clinicians to be alert to it."

Initial symptoms include a viral illness, before a chicken pox-type rash spreads across parts of the body.

Anyone who feels ill must "stay at home", Dr Hopkins said.

"If you have a rash, immediately seek medical care, either by calling your GP or a sexual health clinic," she said.

It's believed Covid lockdowns across the world may have fuelled the spread of the virus.

"We know there's been period of restrictions across Europe, and we don't know where infection has come from," she said.

"There is no obvious connection to a single event in our cases in the UK."


However, medics believe some people are contracting the virus after a sexual encounter as the virus can spread more easily through personal contact.

Dr Hopkins says it seems to be particularly prevalent in gay and bi men.

Anyone changing sexual partners regularly or having close contact with people they don't know should come forward if they develop a rash, she said.

Yesterday, Dr Claire Dewsnap, president of the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV, says the medical community is bracing for more as the virus spreads.

She told Sky News: "What worries me the most is there are infections across Europe, so this has already spread.

"It's already circulating in the general population.

We are detecting more cases on a daily basis

"It could be really significant numbers over the next two or three weeks."

Meanwhile, it has emerged experts warned three years ago that monkeypox would "fill the void" left by smallpox.

Scientists from leading institutions including the University of Cambridge and the London School of Tropical Hygiene and Medicine said the disease would evolve to fill the "niche" left after smallpox was eradicated in 1980.

Although monkeypox is usually mild, it can prove fatal in rare cases. The strain causing the current outbreak kills an average of one in 100 infected. 

According to the Sunday Telegraph, the experts attended a seminar in London back in 2019 and discussed how there was a need to develop "a new generation vaccines and treatments".

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Their discussion was published in the Vaccine journal in 2020.

Monkeypox, which was first found in monkeys, can be transmitted from person to person through close physical contact – including sex.

The seven symptoms of monkeypox you need to know

People infected with monkeypox will usually start to experience symptoms five to 21 days after initial infection

The NHS says the first symptoms are:

  1. A high temperature
  2. A headache
  3. Muscle aches
  4. Backache
  5. Swollen glands
  6. Shivering (chills)
  7. Exhaustion

They added that a rash usually appears one to five days after the symptoms.

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