(OPINION) Monkeypox could have a “massive impact” on access to UK sexual health services, a leading doctor has warned. Dr. Claire Dewsnap, the president of the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV, has voiced concern about how the viral infection could affect services as staff who come into contact with sufferers are forced to isolate.
She told the BBC that clinic staff was already under significant pressure before monkeypox was identified. “It is already stretching the workforce and will have a massive impact if staff have to isolate if they are in close contact with someone who’s infected,” she said.
As of Friday, there were 20 confirmed cases of the disease in the UK, and nine other countries outside central and west Africa have also reported outbreaks. Monkeypox, which was first detected in 1958, can be transmitted from person to person through close physical contact.
Dewsnap told BBC Radio 4: “In terms of the infection and its consequences for individuals, I’m not that concerned, but I am concerned about our ability to maintain good sexual health services and access for everyone while still managing this new infection.”
Infections were confirmed in Italy, Sweden, Spain, Portugal, the US, and Canada, as well as the UK – where the first European case was reported. The WHO says another 50 suspected cases are being investigated. Monkeypox can be spread when someone is in close contact with an infected person. The virus can enter the body through broken skin, or through the eyes, nose, or mouth. It has not previously been described as a sexually transmitted infection, but it can be passed on by direct contact during sex.