Headline

Monkeypox - what do we know about the UK’s biggest-ever outbreak of the virus?

Fateha Khawaja
June 6, 2022
Summary

In the UK, there has been an outbreak of a virus called Monkeypox that is usually linked to parts of Africa. Usually, this disease is endemic and is linked to spread between different animals, such as rodents. It is difficult to be spread between humans however there have been parallel outbreaks across Europe for reasons unknown. The virus usually causes mild symptoms such as a fever, muscle aches and a rash that will blister and scab over. As of the 18th Mthere are ninepeople that have been infected by the virus in the UK.

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Food for Thought

Pandemic potential

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Monkeypox is transmitted through contact – be that through contact with a person or contaminated surfaces. However, it is extremely unlikely that monkeypox will develop into a pandemic. As of yet, there have been no deaths in the UK and a 3-6% fatality ratio worldwide. However, there have been outbreaks of monkeypox previously, some of which have been more severe than what we are seeing now - e.g. in 2001-2002, 485 cases were reported in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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As monkeypox currently appears to be low risk, do you think the government should use taxpayers money to contain this outbreak through contact tracing and preventative measures, or do you think this would be unnecessary? If there were measures implemented to reduce the risk, how do you think this will be received by the public? Do you think people still care about protecting themselves from what appears to be a milder virus after the restrictions of Covid-19, or do they just want to resume their lives as normal? How do you think the government and public health bodies can use the infrastructure developed during Covid to combat Monkeypox and any other contagious diseases?

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The nature of the symptoms

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One symptom of monkeypox is rashes and skin lesions. Compared to the symptoms of Covid-19, this is a more obvious symptom that will enable easier and earlier diagnosis than a new cough or cold symptoms, as people are naturally more aware of and scared of skin changes. We saw with Covid-19 that people would often bend the rules as you couldn’t really tell whether someone was infected or not. in an age where people are more concerned with their physical appearance, do you think people would be as likely to bend the rules with a disease like monkeypox that gave you rashes, or would they want to protect themselves from these symptoms more?

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Practice Interview QUestions
  1. How could the NHS use their prior knowledge of the COVID-19 pandemic to prepare for negative outcomes of this outbreak?
  2. If there was a new outbreak (with monkeypox or any new virus) now, what are the challenges the government would face when implementing protective measures? How would you encourage the public to adhere to the rules?
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