Monkeypox has long been considered extinct. But now more and more cases of the disease have been recorded in Great Britain in recent weeks. To protect risk groups, the British health authority is buying a special vaccine.
Following mounting evidence of monkeypox infection, Britain has reportedly bought smallpox vaccine, which is said to offer some protection against the disease. The BBC reported, citing the British government. It was initially unclear how much vaccine was purchased and who should be vaccinated with it. A spokeswoman for the British health authority said the vaccine should be offered to people at higher risk of infection. The risk to the general population remains very low, it said.
A total of 20 cases of monkeypox have been recorded in the UK in the past few weeks. Even if the smallpox vaccine is not specifically tailored to the monkeypox virus, it should offer some protection - especially against more serious diseases. Routine vaccination against smallpox in Britain was phased out in the 1970s, according to the BBC, when the disease was declared eradicated in the country.
Most recently, cases had been found in several other countries such as Spain, France, Sweden, Australia and the USA, and Germany had already reported its first detection. A large part or possibly even all of the cases so far have involved men, and in many cases they have reportedly had sexual contact with men.
The World Health Organization (WHO) had called for a rigorous follow-up of all contacts of those affected. Clinics and the population would have to be made aware of the symptoms. According to the WHO, a vaccination recommendation only applies to certain risk groups such as laboratory staff and certain first responders. However, this will be checked in a timely manner, it said on request. A new vaccine against smallpox and monkeypox has also been approved but is not yet widely available beyond national reserves.