BRITS are flooding the NHS over fears their rash could be linked to the monkeypox outbreak.
Health chiefs are urging those who fear they may have the virus to contact sexual health clinics instead of bombing 111.
Mateo Prochazka, head of the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), wants staff to be able to focus on other health issues.
Mr Prochazka told The Daily Telegraph: “Sexual health clinics are not just for gay and bisexual men.
“Anyone can be seen at a sexual health clinic, regardless of gender, sexual orientation or identity. Everyone is welcome.
“There are other possible ways to try and get into the system, maybe calling NHS 111, but this resource was really overloaded with all the callers who had a rash.”
A further 16 cases of monkeypox have been identified in the UK, bringing the total to 106 cases.
The virus has an incubation period of up to 21 days, which means it can take three weeks for symptoms to appear.
These include fever, headache, muscle aches, back pain, swollen lymph nodes, chills and fatigue.
A rash may develop, often starting on the face and then spreading to other parts of the body — including the genitals.
Health officials plan to isolate infected people’s pets in a bid to stem the outbreak.
The Human Animal Infections and Risk Surveillance (HAIRS) group has alerted the government that rodents, rabbits, squirrels and hedgehogs are at highest risk of contracting the virus and could spread it in wild populations.
Experts fear that if the virus is released into wildlife populations, it will be endemic and increasingly difficult to eradicate.
All of the new patients are based in England, with the first case detected on May 6 and Wales and Northern Ireland reporting their first cases on Thursday.
The World Health Organization has warned that 200 cases of monkeypox found outside of countries where the virus normally circulates in recent weeks could be just the beginning.
Monkeypox is not known as a sexually transmitted infection (STI), but it can be transmitted through direct contact during sex, possibly through contaminated items such as bedding, clothing, and towels.
Officials are confident the outbreak will not reach Covid levels as they believe the risk to the public is low.
But they have urged Britons, particularly gay and bisexual men, to be on the lookout for any new rashes or lesions.
Teams from the UKHSA have contacted contacts at high risk of confirmed cases and are advising them to self-isolate at home for three weeks and avoid contact with children.
Both confirmed cases and close contacts are being offered the Imvanex vaccine to create a buffer of immune individuals around a confirmed case and limit the spread of the disease.
dr Susan Hopkins, UKHSA’s senior medical adviser, said: “We continue to promptly identify further cases of monkeypox in England through our extensive surveillance and contact tracing networks, our vigilant NHS services and thanks to the people who come forward with symptoms.
“We ask people to be on the lookout for new spots, ulcers or blisters on any part of their body.
“If anyone suspects they may have these, particularly if they have recently had a new sexual partner, they should limit their contact with others and contact NHS 111 or their local sexual health service as soon as possible. However, please call ahead before attending in person.”
https://www.the-sun.com/health/5440908/brits-overloading-nhs-rash-health-chief-monkeypox/ Brits ‘overloading’ NHS 111 ‘because anyone who gets a rash’ thinks they have monkeypox, health chief warns