By Nina Lloyd and Dominic McGrath, PA
The HSE has secured vaccines to help protect people against monkeypox, the Minister for Health has confirmed.
It comes as the first confirmed case of monkeypox has been identified in the State.
The infection was reported in the east of the country on Friday night and the person affected was not kept in hospital.
A further suspected case is also being investigated, and test results are being awaited, health officials said.
A public health risk assessment has been undertaken and those who have been in contact with the person are being advised on what to do in the event that they become ill.
A statement from HSE said: “The Health Protection Surveillance Centre was notified last night of a confirmed case of monkeypox in Ireland, in the east of the country.”
“This was not unexpected following the presence of monkeypox cases in the UK and many European countries,” it added.
“Public Health is following up those who had close contact with the person with monkeypox while they were infectious.
“In order to maintain patient confidentiality, no further information about this person will be provided.”
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said the HSE has acquired supplies of a third-generation smallpox vaccine.
“The public health advice from the public health doctors I’m talking to are very much taking monkeypox within the stride of normal public health measures,” Mr Donnelly said.
“The HSE, as you would expect, and public health have put in place the incident management team. They have isolation procedures, they have test and trace procedures in place.
“While it is quite a sobering name, monkeypox, the advice I have is that for the overwhelming number of people the symptoms are quite mild.”
He also confirmed that the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) had recommended the vaccine be offered to healthcare workers caring for monkeypox patients and high-risk close contacts of those cases.
“I have no advice from the HSE or the department to suggest we don’t have enough of the vaccine. Certainly, the intent and the public health response is around containment and keeping the number of cases quite small,” he told reporters in Dublin.
It comes after 16 more cases of the virus were identified in England on Friday, health officials said.
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said the new cases bring the England total since May 7th to 101, and the UK total to 106.
There have been three confirmed cases in Scotland, one in Wales and one in Northern Ireland.
The first cases of monkeypox in Wales and Northern Ireland were recorded on Thursday while Scotland confirmed a further two cases.
Almost 200 cases have been reported in more than 20 countries not usually known to have outbreaks of the virus, according to the World Health Organisation.