The Gibraltar Health Authority has confirmed that a positive case of monkeypox has been detected at St Bernard’s Hospital in Gibraltar. The individual is a resident of Spain who works in Gibraltar, who went to the hospital and was immediately isolated and assessed in line with the GHA's established monkeypox procedure. The patient's only known close contact also resides in Spain and works on the Rock.
Gibraltar’s monkeypox response preparations have been underway since the outbreak was announced by the World Health Organization in early May. A group of senior members of the GHA at St Bernard’s Hospital, chaired by the Director General Professor Patrick Geoghegan, met on Thursday 26 May to rehearse the process for receiving and managing cases and a further GHA Operational Group met on Friday 27 May.
A Strategic Coordination Group, chaired by the Minister for Civil Contingencies, also met on Tuesday 31 May, to review Gibraltar’s preparations to date and agree next steps in escalating the response.
The GHA has procedures in place ready to be implemented if further cases are identified.
Monkeypox is a rare disease that commonly causes fever (over 37.9 degrees) and swollen glands, followed by a skin rash with blisters and scabs. The illness is usually mild and most people recover in 3-4 weeks. However for a minority of people the illness is more severe so if anyone in Gibraltar has symptoms they should call 111 (or 200 72266 from a phone outside Gibraltar).
The GHA is asking people not to attend A&E if they suspect they are experiencing symptoms of monkeypox. Instead, they should call 111, where the GHA will be able to assess the symptoms and send a mobile team to their home if necessary.
The virus is transmitted from person to person by close contact with lesions, body fluids, respiratory droplets and contaminated materials (such as bedding).
Gibraltar's Director of Public Health (locum), Dr Jackie Hyland, says that: "Monkeypox is a self-limiting illness and most people recover within several weeks. Most cases, although unpleasant, can be managed at home with no need for hospitalisation. The GHA already has plans in place for mobile teams to support individuals at home if the need arises.
‘Monkeypox is also relatively difficult to transmit, and can only spread from person to person by close contact with a symptomatic individual or their clothing or bedding. At the moment, there is no requirement for the public to take extraordinary measures, except to be aware of the symptoms and to call 111 for advice if they suspect that they are experiencing these symptoms. As with many other viruses, good hygiene and regular handwashing help to prevent transmission".