NHS Website Quietly Changes its Monkeypox Guidance to Add a Requirement To Isolate

There follows a guest post by Dr. David Seedhouse, Honorary Professor of Deliberative Practice at Aston University, who wonders why the NHS has been busy updating its monkeypox webpage.

According to one section of the NHS conditions website, monkeypox was first discovered in 1958 when outbreaks of a pox-like disease occurred in monkeys kept for research. It is a well-known virus, studied by scientists for decades, spread by close contact, and has established treatments.

So why has another part of the website recently been altered?

The screenshots below (provided by an eagle-eyed member of Our Decision Too) are a little difficult to read, but close inspection shows that the NHS has deleted key excerpts from its website, which previously stated that monkeypox is “usually a mild illness that will get better on its own without treatment” and “it’s very uncommon to get monkeypox from a person with the infection because it does not spread easily between people”. (Archived pages for November 2nd, May 19th and May 21st can be found on the Internet Archive.)

Despite the previous acknowledgement that monkeypox is difficult to spread, an isolation requirement has been added, “as the infection can spread through close contact, it’s important to isolate if you’re diagnosed with it”. It continues:

You may be asked to isolate at home if your symptoms are mild.

If your symptoms are severe or you’re at higher risk of getting seriously ill (for example, if you have a weakened immune system), you may need to stay in a specialist hospital until you recover.

You may be offered a vaccination to reduce the risk of getting seriously ill.

What would happen if the patient does not want to attend a specialist hospital is not discussed, nor is it explained how a vaccination will help an already infected person.

The page was reviewed on May 27th. We are told that the next review will not be until April 25th 2025. Worth bookmarking?

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