LONDON (Reuters) - People infected with monkeypox can isolate at home, if they remain well enough, whilst following measures to limit close contact with others, the UK's health security agency (UKHSA) said on Monday, as part of fresh guidance designed to curb the rise in cases of viral illness in the country.
More than 300 suspected and confirmed cases of monkeypox - a usually mild illness that spreads through close contact and can cause flu-like symptoms and pus-filled skin lesions - have been reported in May.
Most cases have cropped up in Europe rather than in the Central and West African countries where the virus is endemic, and are predominantly not linked to travel.
Scientists are therefore looking into what might explain this unusual surge of cases.
The UKHSA on Monday indicated community transmission was occuring in the UK and that infected people should avoid contact with others until their lesions have healed and the scabs have dried off, and abstain from sex as soon as symptoms appear.
Whilst there is currently no available evidence of monkeypox spreading via genital excretions, people infected with the virus are advised to use condoms for eight weeks after infection as a precaution, the agency added.
The highest risk of transmission is through direct contact with someone with monkeypox - but the overall risk to the UK population remains low, said Ruth Milton, senior medical advisor and monkeypox strategic response director at UKHSA.
The agency, which is offering a vaccine to close contacts of cases, has procured more than 20,000 doses of a smallpox vaccine made by Bavarian Nordic.
The smallpox and monkeypox virus are closely related.
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