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Monkeypox warning as doctors discover virus can infect your eye – leaving you blind

A WARNING has been issued after patients who contracted monkeypox have been left visually impaired.

In many cases, people who have the illness have been left with lesions on their skin.

Medics have reported cases of ocular monkeypox – which in serious instances, can leave you blind

Other symptoms have included those similar to the flu, such as a high temperature, headache and backache.

But medics in the US reported five cases of ocular monkeypox, that occured during the outbreak, between July and September this year.

The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) said the complication was defined as the “presence of new ocular disease compatible with Orthopoxvirus (OPXV) infection in a patient with probable or confirmed monkeypox”.

Authorities said there was no other explanation for the complication.

In the most severe cases, patients who develop this could go blind.

But more commonly, they may experience corneal ulcers, keratitis, conjunctivitis and corneal scarring.

Experts at the CDC said that monkeypox can affect the most vulnerable parts of the body.

“Corneal scarring and vision loss are potential severe consequences of ocular involvement of monkeypox virus infection.

“Bacterial superinfection of corneal ulcerations can cause severe complications, the agency said.

At present in the US, there are 27,635 cases of monkeypox, with states such as California and New York being the worst hit.

In the UK, the figure is much lower, with an estimated 3,586 people having the bug.

Monkeypox is a rare disease that usually causes outbreaks in Africa but a fresh outbreak started in the UK, Europe and the US in May this year.

Previous studies revealed a link between the bug and sight issues, with 23 per cent of patients in a 2014 paper having experienced conjuntivitis.

However, this has been uncommon in infections this year, despite this, the CDC urged healthcare providers to be aware of the ‘sight-threatening’ condition.

Of the five patients who experienced eye issues, one described it as a progressive rash – they also had swelling, itching and photosensitivity.

The patient was admitted to hospital days after they started to experience symptoms due to ‘worsening ocular issues’.

After five days, they were discharged, but were readmitted a week later due to worsening lesions.

They added: “All five patients with ocular monkeypox described in this report suffered prolonged illness, four were hospitalized, and one experienced significant vision impairment.”

Off the back of the new information, medics are urging people to practice good hand hygiene and avoid touching their eyes if they come down with monkeypox.

Those who have tested positive and who think they have the illness should also avoid using contact lenses.

The CDC added: “Public health officials should be promptly notified of cases of ocular monkeypox.

“Increased clinician awareness of ocular monkeypox and of approaches to prevention, diagnosis, and treatment might reduce associated morbidity.”

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