Health chiefs said today that two more people in the UK have been diagnosed with monkeypox in cases unrelated to previous infections.
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said one of the people – who lived in the same household – was being treated in hospital.
The two cases, the eighth and ninth ever confirmed in the UK, are not linked to the previously confirmed case in England which was announced on May 7.
The UK Health Services Authority (UKHSA) said close contacts of the last two cases were being provided with health information and advice “as a precaution”.
Monkeypox is a rare viral infection that kills up to one in ten infected people but does not spread easily between people.
The disease was first discovered in the UK in 2018 after a traveler brought the virus back from Nigeria and spread it to two other people, including an NHS nurse who contracted it from bed sheets.
Health directors said it was important to stress that the overall risk to the general public remained “extremely low”.
Monkeypox is a rare viral infection that kills up to one in ten infected people but does not spread easily between people (file photo)
One of the newer cases is being cared for in the Infectious Diseases Unit at St Mary’s Hospital (file photo above), Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, in London
One of the most recent cases is being cared for in the Infectious Diseases Unit at St Mary’s Hospital, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, in London.
The UKHSA said the other person is in isolation and does not currently need hospital treatment.
Health officials added that they are investigating where and how the couple contracted the infection.
The case announced earlier this month was of a person with a recent travel history from Nigeria, where they are believed to have contracted the infection, prior to traveling to the UK.
Dr Colin Brown, Director of Clinical and Emerging Infections at UKHSA, said: “We have confirmed two new cases of monkeypox in England unrelated to the case announced on 7 May.
While investigations are still underway to determine the source of the infection, it is important to stress that it does not spread easily between people and requires close personal contact with an infected person showing symptoms. The overall risk to the general public remains very low.
We reach out to any friends, family, or potential contacts in the community. We are also working with the NHS to reach out to any healthcare contacts who have been in close contact with cases before they were confirmed infected, to assess them as necessary and provide advice.
He said the UKHSA and the NHS had “well-established and robust infection control procedures in place to deal with imported infectious disease cases and would be strictly followed”.
Professor Julian Redhead, Medical Director at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “We are caring for a patient in the highly specialized Infectious Diseases Unit at St Mary’s Hospital.
“All necessary infection control measures have been followed and we are working closely with UKHSA and NHS England.”
Initial symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headache, muscle aches, back pain, swollen lymph nodes, chills, and fatigue (Image provided by UKHSA)
Initial symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headache, muscle aches, back pain, swollen lymph nodes, chills, and fatigue.
A rash can develop, which changes and goes through various stages before eventually forming a crust, which later falls off.
The first human case of monkeypox virus was recorded in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and has since been detected in a number of Central and West African countries.
Most cases have been reported in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Nigeria.
In 2003, the disease was discovered in the United States when an outbreak of the disease after the import of rodents from Africa.
The first cases were discovered in the UK in 2018, when three people contracted the virus after a man returned from Nigeria including an NHS nurse who was caring for a patient who blamed her PPE.
The incident led to more than 50 people warning that they had been exposed to the deadly virus, but no other cases of this outbreak were recorded.
Another case was detected in London in December 2019 and another two cases were discovered in North Wales in 2021. All cases are believed to have been caught by travelers who were in Nigeria.
What is monkeypox virus and what are its risks and symptoms?
Monkeypox — often caught by handling monkeys — is a rare viral disease that kills about 10 percent of the people it infects, according to figures.
The virus responsible for the disease is found mainly in the tropics of West and Central Africa.
Monkeypox was first discovered in 1958, with the first human case reported in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1970. Human cases of infection were first reported in the United States in 2003 and the United Kingdom in September 2018.
It is found in wild animals but humans can contract it through direct contact with animals, such as handling monkeys, or eating inadequately cooked meat.
The virus can enter the body through broken skin, respiratory tract, eyes, nose, or mouth.
It can be transmitted between humans through droplets in the air, touching the skin of an infected person, or touching objects contaminated with it.
Symptoms usually appear within five and 21 days of infection. These include fever, headache, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills, and fatigue.
The most obvious symptom is a rash that usually appears on the face before spreading to other parts of the body. This then leads to the formation of skin lesions that peel and fall off.
Monkeypox is usually mild, with most patients recovering within a few weeks without treatment. However, the disease can often be fatal.
There are no specific treatments or vaccines available for monkeypox infection, according to the World Health Organization.