THE official list of monkeypox symptoms has been expanded as cases continue to rise, health chiefs have stated.
Medics have declared the outbreak a global health emergency, with 2,208 cases having been detected in the UK so far.
In the US there are currently 2,891 cases – with New York and California being the worst hit.
New guidance issued by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has urged Brits to look out for any new lesions.
Experts said that just a single lesion or lesions on the genitals, anus and surrounding area, lesions in the mouth, and symptoms of anal rectal pain or bleeding can be a sign.
They highlighted that this is a red flag especially if the individual has recently had a new sexual partner.
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In most cases, infection usually starts with symptoms such as a fever and headache.
Some people will also experience muscle aches, back ache, chills or exhaustion.
This is usually followed by a rash a few days later.
Meera Chand, Director of Clinical and Emerging Infections at UKHSA said medics are continuing to see cases that have been passed on primarly through close or sexual contact.
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She added: “We have updated our case definitions to reflect the clinical presentations that have been seen during this outbreak.
“It is important to recognise that just one or two genital or anal lesions, or lesions in the mouth can be signs of monkeypox, especially if you have had a new sexual partner.
“If you think you have monkeypox stay at home and contact 111 or your local sexual health service for advice.
“There is still a need to be cautious, stay alert for symptoms. For many people symptoms can be mild but for some people, hospital treatment may be required.”
There have been no deaths in the UK as of yet from the outbreak and medics said that most people can manage their symptoms at home.
The update from the UKHSA comes after a study in The New England Journal of Medicine last week found that many who have the bug were experiencing symptoms not recognised.
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Experts at the UK Health Security Agency have said all Brits should be on the look out for key signs and symptoms.
The signs may include:
- Muscle aches
- Night sweats
- Cold-like symptoms, such as congestion and runny nose
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Swollen groin
Experts today said you should also look out for lesions in the mouth or around the anus
“These symptoms include single genital lesions and sores on the mouth or anus,” the paper said.
One in ten people had only a single skin lesion in the genital area, and 15 per cent had anal and/or rectal pain, Dr John Thornhill, a sexual health consultant and lecturer at Queen Mary University of London, said.
The findings back those of a recent analysis of London cases, published in the British Medical Journal.
It said of the 54 cases, "skin lesions on genitals appeared to be more common in this outbreak", while fever and tiredness was less so.
The concern is that these symptoms are being confused for other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as genital warts or syphilis, or even cold sores.
When cases slip through the net it makes containing the spread of the disease more challenging.
The paper said: “The clinical symptoms are similar to those of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and can easily lead to misdiagnosis.
“In some people, anal and oral symptoms have led to people being admitted to hospital for management of pain and difficulties swallowing.
“This is why it’s so important that these new clinical symptoms be recognised and healthcare professionals be educated on how to identify and manage the disease – misdiagnosis can slow detection and thus hinder efforts to control the spread of the virus.
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“The study will therefore lead to increased rates of diagnosis when persons from at-risk groups present with traditional STI symptoms.”
Monkeypox is not an STI but is predominately spread through sex, given that it it transmits with close skin contact.
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