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Jason Leitch: ‘Stop, take a breath and calm down’ over UK monkeypox cases

A UK Health Security Agency briefing shows the stages of Monkeypox (PA)
A UK Health Security Agency briefing shows the stages of Monkeypox (PA)

Scotland’s chief medical officer has told people to “take a breath and calm down” over cases of monkeypox in England.

Speaking to STV News on Friday evening, Professor Jason Leitch reassured viewers there are no cases of the virus in Scotland.

The infection is a rare virus, spread from dead or diseased animals in west or central Africa. Symptoms including a fever and a rash will develop on day one to five.

Professor Jason Leitch
Professor Jason Leitch told Scottish people to ‘relax and take a breath’ over monkeypox cases (Saltire Society/PA)

Prof Leitch said: “This is a known disease we know quite a lot about.

“Occasionally they get out of west and central Africa – to the US, to Europe, we’ve had cases here before.

“Usually if you interrupt the trains of transmission, you can knock this disease on its head.”

The infection, while unpleasant, is often mild and many recover within two to four weeks of having it.

Prof Leitch added: “There are no cases in Scotland so the first and most important thing is: everybody just needs to stop, take a breath and calm down.

“It’s still quite small numbers.

“What happens is, it’s quite an infectious virus, not as infectious or as airborne as Covid and things we’re used to like flu, but it can move from person to person.

“You need to be pretty close, it’s droplet spread, so it’s families, it’s sexual partners, it’s people who are in very close proximity.

“You get general fever, the kind of viral disease, but you also get a rash.

“If that happens or if you’re concerned, you should contact a health professional.”

He advised viewers that teams were in close contact with colleagues in England and in Europe to monitor cases.

“If we’re in touch with you, it’s because we’re contact tracing you. That’s an old fashioned way of doing public health. It’s exactly the same as we were doing 10 years ago.

“This is a well known, a standard disease. It’s unpleasant, so I’m not complacent.

“We’re doing a lot of surveillance. We’re following up contacts in England. If it comes to Scotland we will do exactly the same.

“Public health is ready, we know what it looks like. We know who’s at risk and we’ll be able to deal with it.

“There are a few more cases in Europe than we’d like. We’re talking to all of our European colleagues, we’re interrupting the chains of transmission and you don’t need to worry.”