Two cases of monkeypox identified in England, the UK Health Security Agency has announced.
The two cases are unrelated to a case found on May 7, but they are in the same household, the announcement said.
One of the people is being treated at the Infectious Diseases Experts Unit at St Mary’s Hospital in London, while the other case is in isolation and does not currently require hospital treatment.
As a precaution, UKHSA experts said they are working closely with the people and NHS colleagues and will be contacting people who may have been in close contact to provide information and health advice.
People without symptoms are not considered contagious, but as a precaution, those who have been in close proximity to people will be contacted to ensure they can be treated quickly should they become ill, the UKHSA added.
Last week a person in England was diagnosed with monkeypox. The patient had recently arrived from Nigeria, where he is thought to have contracted the infection before coming to the UK.
The person is being treated at the Infectious Diseases Unit at Guy’s and St Thomas’ in London.
Initial symptoms of monkeypox are fever, headache, muscle aches, back pain, swollen lymph nodes, chills and fatigue. A rash may develop, often starting on the face and then spreading to other parts of the body, particularly the hands and feet. The rash changes and goes through different stages before eventually forming a scab that later falls off.
Professor Julian Redhead, Medical Director of the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “We are caring for a patient in our specialist unit for serious infectious diseases at St Mary’s Hospital. All required infection control procedures have been followed and we are working closely with the UKHSA and NHS England.”
Monkeypox is a rare viral infection that does not easily spread between people. It’s usually a mild, self-limiting illness and most people recover within a few weeks. However, some people can develop serious illnesses.
The infection can be spread when someone is in close contact with an infected person, but there is a very low risk of transmission to the general population.
dr Colin Brown, Director, Clinical and Emerging Infections, UKHSA, added: “While investigations are ongoing to determine the source of the infection, it is important to stress that it does not spread easily between people and close personal contact with an infected symptomatic person requires. The overall risk to the general public remains very low.
“We are contacting any potential friends, family members or contacts in the community. We are also working with the NHS to reach out to all health contacts who have been in close contact with cases before their infection was confirmed, to assess and offer advice where necessary.
“UKHSA and the NHS have well established and robust infection control procedures for dealing with cases of imported infectious diseases and these are strictly followed.”
Since 1970, human cases of monkeypox have been reported from 11 African countries: Benin, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Nigeria, Republic of the Congo, Sierra Leone and South Sudan.
In 2017, Nigeria experienced the largest documented outbreak, 40 years after the last confirmed case. The true burden of monkeypox is unknown.