First UK monkeypox patient to go public says he had no spot-like symptoms linked to disease

·Breaking News Editor, Yahoo News UK
·4 min read
James McFadzean, 35, returned to the UK from Dubai and was diagnosed with monkeypox. (TalkTV)
James McFadzean, 35, returned to the UK from Dubai and was diagnosed with monkeypox. (TalkTV)

The first UK monkeypox patient to go public with his diagnosis has said he had none of the tell-tale pustules linked the disease.

James McFadzean, 35, also claimed track and trace officials took more than a week to get in touch with him.

Speaking to TalkTV, McFadzean said he returned to the UK from Dubai and was urged to get checked after showing flu-like symptoms and back pain.

"I really didn't think I had it," he said. "Everything you hear everything you read talks about this tell-tale rash or lumps or pimples which I never had at any point.

"I felt ill much like a flu; fever, very exhausted, back pain, and on calling a local clinic they advised I should go for a monkeypox test, which I was surprised by but went along with and it was after that test I got a positive diagnosis."

Read more: Is there a monkeypox vaccine?

James said he never showed the tell-tale signs of monkeypox. (TalkTV)

When asked if he had shown spots at any point he said: "Not once, not at all. Not when I felt ill, not when I was recovering.

"The news has been saying that once those pox have disappeared then you're fine to carry on with normal life, whereas I never developed any. The doctors were confused as to what advice to give me."

Monkeypox has been declared a notifiable disease in England, meaning all medics must alert local health authorities to suspected cases.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said laboratories must also tell it if the virus is identified in a sample. To date, 321 infections have been confirmed in the UK.

Monkeypox is spread by close contact, which means it can be contained through such measures as self-isolation and hygiene if caught quickly.

Little is known about the asymptomatic spread so far, with the majority of cases being confirmed to be transmitted through close contact with an infected person or animal, the World Health Organization says.

However, James — who was confirmed to have the disease on 28 May after a PCR test — was critical of health authorities saying that until he publicly came forward, the UKHSA had failed to get in touch for contact tracing.

(UK Health Security Agency)
(UK Health Security Agency)

He told MailOnline on Tuesday: "It’s no wonder now we’re getting so many more infections if no contact tracing or awareness about you not needing the spots to have the virus being told to people.

"No-one’s asked me who I’ve been in contact with. I was told that within 24 hours of my diagnosis someone from UKHSA would call me.

"I've called the clinic every day, asking 'why aren’t they calling me, I’m not allowed outside and not allowed to go work. The UKHSA is not calling me, someone needs to document this'."

He confirmed to TalkTV that the UKHSA had finally got in touch on Tuesday evening.

Wendi Shepherd, monkeypox incident director at UKHSA, said: “Rapid diagnosis and reporting is the key to interrupting transmission and containing any further spread of monkeypox.

“This new legislation will support us and our health partners to swiftly identify, treat and control the disease.

“It also supports us with the swift collection and analysis of data which enables us to detect possible outbreaks of the disease and trace close contacts rapidly, whilst offering vaccinations where appropriate to limit onward transmission.”

Monkeypox is not normally a sexually-transmitted infection, but it can be passed on by direct contact during sex.

FILE - This 2003 electron microscope image made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows mature, oval-shaped monkeypox virions, left, and spherical immature virions, right, obtained from a sample of human skin associated with the 2003 prairie dog outbreak. British health officials reported 73 more monkeypox cases on Monday, June 6, 2022, raising the total to more than 300 across the country. (Cynthia S. Goldsmith, Russell Regner/CDC via AP, File)
An electron microscope image shows mature, oval-shaped monkeypox virions. (AP, File)

It can also be spread through touching clothing, bedding or towels used by someone with the monkeypox rash.

According to the UKHSA, monkeypox does not usually spread easily between people and the overall risk to the UK population remains low.

Anyone with unusual rashes or lesions on any part of their body, especially their genitalia, should contact NHS 111 or call a sexual health service if they have concerns, it said.

The disease is usually mild but can cause severe illness in some cases.

According to the WHO, symptoms last from 2 to 4 weeks. In recent times, the case fatality ratio has been around 3–6%.

Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion.

A rash can develop, often beginning on the face, which then spreads to other parts of the body including the genitals.

The UK government advice says: "The risk to the UK population remains low, but we are asking people to be alert to any new rashes or lesions, which would appear like spots, ulcers or blisters, on any part of their body."

In May, David Heymann, an infectious disease specialist at the WHO, said the organisation was urgently looking at what needed to be studied about the outbreak and communicated to the public, including whether there is any asymptomatic spread, who are at most risk, and the various routes of transmission.

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