The UK has ordered 20,000 doses of the smallpox vaccine (Picture: Getty)

It was confirmed that the UK has now over 100 cases of monkeypox, something which has seen the NHS 111 line overwhelmed.

Despite the rise in cases, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has said the risk to the overall UK population ‘remains low’.

Monkeypox symptoms typically include fever, rash and swollen lymph nodes and may lead to a range of medical complications. If people – particularly people who have recently had a new sexual partner – show signs of these symptoms, they are urged to limit their contact with others and consult a doctor or a sexual health clinic.

Can something help prevent either the spread of the infection or limit the symptoms, though? Can a vaccine help?

Can the smallpox vaccine be used against monkeypox?

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has confirmed that vaccines used during the smallpox eradication programme also provided protection against monkeypox.

A fever, swollen lymph nodes and a rash are common symptoms of monkeypox (Picture: Getty)

Because monkeypox virus is closely related to the virus that causes smallpox, the smallpox vaccine can protect people from getting monkeypox – past data from Africa suggests that the smallpox vaccine is at least 85% effective in preventing monkeypox.

The UK has already bought 20,000 doses of the smallpox vaccine as cases rise across Europe.

WHO also explain that, though the two bear close clinical similarities, monkeypox is less contagious than smallpox and causes less severe illness.

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Monkeypox is caused by monkeypox virus, a member of the orthopoxvirus genus in the family Poxviridae – smallpox is a related orthopoxvirus infection.

Monkeypox is transmitted to humans through close contact with an infected person or animal, or with material contaminated with the virus.

When is the best time to be vaccinated against monkeypox?

The CDC (Center for Disease Control) in the United States argues that the sooner a person receives the vaccine, the more effective it will be in protecting against monkeypox virus.

However, if you think you’ve been exposed to the virus already, you can still consider getting vaccinated afterwards.

Institutes and health bodies across Europe have started to take action as cases spread, with countries including Belgium and Spain affected (Picture: Getty)

The CDC recommends that the vaccine be given within 4 days from the date of exposure in order to prevent onset of the disease.

If that isn’t possible, if a vaccine is given between 4–14 days after the date of exposure, vaccination may reduce the symptoms of disease but may not prevent the disease.


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