Monkeypox has become 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, 302 infections have been confirmed in the UK.
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.
The UK has logged 302 infections, the most out of any other country, followed by Spain (190), Portugal (143), Canada (80) and Germany (66)
‘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.’
David Heymann, professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), said: ‘Making monkeypox a notifiable disease suggests a desire to be sure to have reporting from all sectors (public and private) and all parts of the NHS.
‘It suggests the Government wants to focus surveillance on the entire population – not only on the risk groups identified so far.
‘This will permit clear identification of all risk groups and help better understand the epidemiology and extent of spread.’
Officials are urging gay and bisexual men to be aware of new lesions, rashes or scabs and get in contact with a sexual health clinic
The infection often starts with small bumps that scab over and are contagious
Making monkeypox a notifiable disease will also help businesses who could suffer financial losses from the outbreak.
The same move was made for Covid before the first lockdown.
Officials said at the time it would ‘help companies seek compensation through their insurance policies in the event of any cancellations that they may have to make as a result of the spread of the virus’.
There are now 34 diseases that are currently notifiable, including rabies, whooping cough and measles, as well as leprosy and plague.
A large proportion of cases so far have been identified in the gay, bisexual and men who have sex with other men community.
Monkeypox is not normally a sexually-transmitted infection, but it can be passed on by direct contact during sex.
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.
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.
Pictured: First monkeypox patient to go public is a gay HR manager from London who was deported from Dubai just weeks ago for testing positive for HIV — and he claims he STILL hasn’t been contact traced
James M, 35, has become the first British monkeypox patient to go public
The first British monkeypox patient to go public is an HR manager from London who caught the virus after being deported from Dubai for testing positive for HIV, MailOnline can reveal.
James M, 35, has spoken out after claiming that health chiefs still haven’t contacted him despite being diagnosed with monkeypox nearly a fortnight ago.
He slammed the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) for ‘a real lack of any basic process or care to stop the spread’ of the tropical virus, which has so far infected more than 300 Britons, mostly gay and bisexual men.
James — who wished to keep his surname anonymous — admitted he is not following self-isolation rules because he claims he ‘was told to stay home until UKHSA contacted me… and they never did.’
He accused the UK of having a lackadaisical approach to contact tracing, saying it was ‘no wonder’ Britain had more cases than any other country outside of Africa. There is also a lack of awareness about’ monkeypox’s lesser-known symptoms, he claimed.
James was readjusting to life in west London when he began suffering from ‘really weird aches’ in his lower back, exhaustion, extreme thirst and pain when he used the toilet.
He became convinced he had a sexually transmitted infection (STI) after sleeping with around 10 new partners in the weeks before his symptoms started.
‘I’m a gay man, and having just come back to the UK, I was having a good time,’ he told MailOnline.
But medics wrongly assumed it wasn’t monkeypox because he didn’t have the virus’ tell-tale rash.
James had just returned from Dubai, where being gay is illegal, after four years following a ‘shock’ HIV diagnosis in February. It saw him lose his job and home.
After contacting his local STI clinic in west London, James was sent for tests at a specialist centre in Soho on May 25 and was told to avoid public transport or close contact with others.
‘When I got to the clinic I was told to go and wait outside the main door and call them, they said they were going to put on PPE and they told me not to touch door handles,’ he said.
‘The whole experience kind of heightens your sense of, “oh this must be really serious”. I remember going to Covid centres and it wasn’t as daunting or overwhelming as this.’
At the time, several dozen people had already been diagnosed with the mystery monkeypox virus and it was clear the virus was spreading in London among gay and bisexual men.
The UKHSA claims it has tried on multiple attempts to get in touch with James.