Wandsworth sexual health physicians among first to diagnose Monkeypox in the UK

Published: 22nd July 2022


Dr Katrina Stegmann (Clinical Lead) and Dr Komal Plaha (Consultant Physician, HIV & Sexual Health) have co-authored an article alongside clinicians from Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Trust. The research paper entitled "Demographic and clinical characteristics of confirmed human Monkeypox virus cases in individuals attending a sexual health centre in London, UK: an observational analysis" was recently published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, the leading clinical infectious diseases journal in the world.

Monkeypox is a rare disease that is caused by infection with Monkeypox virus with endemic circulation reported in African regions, predominantly west and central Africa. This paper is an observational study of Monkeypox virus patients who attended sexual health services. It describes the demographics of people who were seen in sexual health services with a variety of symptoms as the infection progressed through the stages. Whilst Monkeypox is not a new disease, the spread of the Monkeypox virus among humans, especially men who engage in sexual behaviour with other men, demonstrates that the virus is transmissible through intimate contact.

Dr Komal Plaha and Dr Katrina Stegmann were among the first clinicians in the UK to diagnose Monkeypox in individuals attending sexual health clinics during the initial phase of the outbreak. After diagnosis the patients were referred for testing at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Trust's specialised testing facility.

All patients screened for Monkeypox virus presented with ulcerations, skin lesions, genital symptoms, and moderate sickness such as fever. A fifth of patients in this study reported the onset of their symptoms was more than 7 days before the first two confirmed Monkeypox virus cases in the UK were reported by UKHSA on 14 May 2022. The findings have shown that Monkeypox virus infection was confirmed in 54 individuals, with five (9%) of 54 individuals required admission to hospital, mainly due to pain or bacterial infection.

One of the reasons this study is so important is because it lays the groundwork for establishing the process of viral transmission in order to inform infection control policies, management in sexual health clinics, contact tracing, and future measures to overcome the spread of Monkeypox virus among vulnerable and at-risk populations.

Katrina Stegmann (Clinical Lead for Sexual Health) said: “This paper in a prestigious journal is important to us at Sexual Health South West London as it recognises the work of the whole team who have delivered excellent care and support to clients whilst on a steep learning curve about a new and unfamiliar infection. The team have been flexible and resilient, coping with uncertainty and rapidly changing guidance alongside an increased workload. It also points to the importance of sharing information and experience across clinical networks for the benefit of population health.”

You can read the full issue online. No sign up or registration required.


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