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Four additional cases of monkeypox have been confirmed according to a news release from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), increasing the number of diagnosed cases to seven since May 6th.
The three cases reported in London and one linked case in England were not connected with the three previously confirmed cases between May 6th and May 15th, the UKHSA officials said in the report. The individuals have the mild West African clade of the virus compared to the Central African clade, the report said. Those in need of medical attention were being treated in infectious disease units of hospitals in the UK.
UKHSA officials said monkeypox is a viral infection spread by very close contact with someone with the virus. The virus is commonly associated with travel to West Africa, the report stated.
The officials wrote in the statement, “There is no link to travel to a country where monkeypox is endemic, and exactly where and how they acquired their infections remains under urgent investigation, including whether they have further links to each other.”
Monkeypox is considered mild and typically occurs in remote parts of central and west Africa.
The release said that common contacts have been identified in two of the latest four cases. Health officials said the most recent cases were infected in London and all four self-identified as gay, bisexual or other men who have sex with men, the report stated.
Dr Susan Hopkins, Chief Medical Adviser, UKHSA, said in the release, “This is rare and unusual. UKHSA is rapidly investigating the source of these infections because the evidence suggests that there may be transmission of the monkeypox virus in the community, spread by close contact.”
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Hopkins also wrote in the report, “We are particularly urging men who are gay and bisexual to be aware of any unusual rashes or lesions and to contact a sexual health service without delay.” Hopkins said close contacts of the cases are being contacted to provide health information and cautioned clinicians to be alert to individuals who present with rashes without a clear alternative diagnosis.
UKHS officials said the risk to the UK population is low and they are working closely with their health partners and international partners to investigate if similar increased cases have been reported in other countries.
According to UK Health officials, symptoms of Monkey pox include the following:
Fever, chillsHeadacheMuscle aches, backacheSwollen lymph nodesExhaustionA rash can develop on the face, then spread to other areas including the genitals
UK Health officials said the rash goes through different stages, and can look like chickenpox or syphilis, before becoming a scab that later falls off.
In this Centers for Disease Control and Prevention handout graphic, symptoms of one of the first known cases of the monkeypox virus are shown on a patient’s hand.
(Courtesy of CDC/Getty Images)
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The UKHSA officials said in the release that most people recover within a few weeks, although in some cases severe illness can occur.
The last case in the United States was almost one year ago, according to Dr. Aaron E. Glatt, MD, MACP, FIDSA, FSHEA, who is the Chief, Infectious Diseases & Hospital Epidemiologist at Mount Sinai South Nassau Hospital in New York and spoke to Fox News about this outbreak in the UK.
Glatt, who is also a spokesperson for the Infectious Diseases Society of America, also explained to Fox News that “monkeypox is related to smallpox, but is much less virulent and much less contagious. The virus is typically transmitted from contact with an infected animal’s bodily fluids or from a bite. Person-to-person transmission is unlikely but can occur via large respiratory droplets along with prolonged close exposure.”
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Glatt told Fox News that the incubation period is usually 1-2 weeks, with fever, rash and chills being the most common symptoms.
Glatt added, “At this time, there is no concern unless you have been in close contact with a person with monkeypox or have been in an area where monkeypox has been reported.”