Two more people have fallen sick with monkeypox in the UK just a week after the first case was reported in the country, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) reports.
Monkeypox is a rare viral infection with symptoms similar to those seen in smallpox patients, such as fever, rash, and swollen lymph nodes. While typically most patients suffer from a mild illness and recover relatively quickly, the disease can be fatal, especially for younger people, and some people can develop more serious symptoms. It also tends to be a self-limiting illness, meaning it doesn’t spread to other people too easily.
The two new cases both live in the same household in London and are not linked to the previously confirmed case announced on May 7. The previous case had recently traveled from Nigeria where the disease is endemic, but the UKHSA is currently unsure how the new pair acquired the illness.
Despite this lack of information, authorities are suggesting that the situation is relatively well under control.
“We have confirmed 2 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 emphasize it does not spread easily between people and requires close personal contact with an infected symptomatic person,” Dr Colin Brown, Director of Clinical and Emerging Infections at the UKHSA, said in a statement.
“The overall risk to the general public remains very low,” he added.
Of the two new cases, one is receiving care at the expert infectious disease unit at St Mary’s Hospital, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust in London, while the other is self-isolating and does not currently require hospital treatment. The UKSHA is working with the patients and hospital to work out who may have come into contact with the virus.
Since being discovered in 1970, human cases of monkeypox have been reported from 11 African countries: Benin, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Nigeria, the Republic of the Congo, Sierra Leone, and South Sudan.
Although the natural reservoir of monkeypox has not yet been identified, humans generally pick up the infection through contact with rodents or monkeys.
There have been numerous incidents where a case of the disease has been exported outside of Africa. Just last year, two cases of monkeypox were reported in two members of the same household in England. Cases of the infection also popped up in the UK in September 2018 and December 2019.