Monkeypox spreads in the UK as two more people diagnosed with killer virus

Two more people have been diagnosed with monkeypox in the UK in cases not linked to the previous infection, health bosses said.

One of the two people – who live in the same household – is being treated in hospital, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said.

The cases, confirmed by health bosses on Saturday, are not connected to the previously confirmed case in England announced on May 7.

Close contacts of the latest two cases are being offered information and health advice ‘as a precautionary measure’, the UKHSA said.

Monkeypox is a rare viral infection which kills up to one in ten of those infected but does not spread easily between people.

The disease was first detected in the UK in 2018 after a traveller brought the virus back from Nigeria and it spread to two other people, including one NHS nurse who caught it from bed linen.

Health bosses said it is important to emphasise that monkeypox does not spread easily between people and that the overall risk to the general public remains ‘very low’.

One of the latest cases is being cared for at the infectious diseases unit at St Mary’s Hospital, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, in London.

The other person is isolating and does not currently require hospital treatment, the UKHSA said.

Health officials added they are investigating where and how the pair acquired their infection.

The case announced earlier this month was a person with a recent travel history from Nigeria, which is where they were believed to have contracted the infection, before travelling to the UK.

Dr Colin Brown, director of clinical and emerging infections at the UKHSA, said: ‘We have confirmed two new monkeypox cases in England that are not linked to the case announced on May 7.

‘While investigations remain ongoing to determine the source of infection, it is important to emphasise it does not spread easily between people and requires close personal contact with an infected symptomatic person. The overall risk to the general public remains very low.

‘We are contacting any potential friends, family or contacts in the community. We are also working with the NHS to reach any healthcare contacts who have had close contact with the cases prior to confirmation of their infection, to assess them as necessary and provide advice.’

He said the UKHSA and the NHS have ‘well established and robust infection control procedures for dealing with cases of imported infectious disease and these will be strictly followed’.

Professor Julian Redhead, medical director at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, said: ‘We are caring for a patient in our specialist high consequence infectious diseases unit at St Mary’s Hospital.

‘All of the necessary infectious control procedures have been followed and we are working closely with UKHSA and NHS England.’

Initial symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion.

A rash can develop, which changes and goes through different stages before finally forming a scab, which later falls off.

The first case of monkeypox in a human was recorded in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and has since been detected in a number of central and wester African countries.

Most cases are reported in the DRC and Nigeria.

In 2003, the disease was detected in the US when an outbreak occurred following the importation of rodents from Africa.

The first cases were detected in the UK in 2018, when three people contracted the virus after a man travelled back from Nigeria including an NHS nurse who had been caring for a patient and blamed her PPE.

The incident meant more than 50 people were warned they had been exposed to the potentially deadly virus however no other cases were recorded from that outbreak.

A further case was detected in London in December 2019 and another two cases were detected in North Wales in 2021. All cases were thought to have been caught by travellers who had been to Nigeria.

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