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UK monkeypox alert as health chiefs detect another FOUR cases of killer virus – and NONE have travel links to Africa
- MailOnline understands all four of the new patients are gay or bisexual men
- Two of new patients are known to each other but not linked to earlier cases
- Rare viral infection kills up to 1 in 10 people and is transmitted via bodily fluid
Four more people have been diagnosed with monkeypox in the UK, bringing the total number of cases detected so far to seven.
MailOnline understands all four of the new patients are gay or bisexual men with no apparent travel links to Africa.
They are not linked to the previous three cases but two of the new patients are known to each other.
Health chiefs are poised to announce the new cases later today and are expected to issue updated guidance for NHS staff.
Nurses and doctors will be advised to wear extra personal protective equipment (PPE) when examining patients with a new rash.
And patients with symptoms are being urged to phone ahead before showing up at hospitals or sexual health clinics.
Monkeypox is often mistaken for other rash illnesses like chickenpox, measles, scabies and syphilis, which makes it difficult to diagnose.
The rare viral infection which kills up to one in ten of those infected but does not spread easily between people. It is transmitted via respiratory droplets during prolonged face-to-face contact or bodily fluids.
Monkeypox is a rare viral infection which kills up to one in ten of those infected but does not spread easily between people (file photo)
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) announced on May 7 that a person who had recently travelled to Nigeria had contracted the infection.
It was believed they contracted the illness in Nigeria, where monkeypox is endemic, before travelling to the UK.
Two more cases were announced on Saturday, in two individuals who lived in the same household but were not linked to the initial case.
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.
More to follow
What is the Monkeypox virus and what are the risks and symptoms?
Monkeypox – often caught through handling monkeys – is a rare viral disease that kills around 10 per cent of people it strikes, according to figures.
The virus responsible for the disease is found mainly in the tropical areas of west and central Africa.
Monkeypox was first discovered in 1958, with the first reported human case in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1970. Human cases were recorded for the first time in the US in 2003 and the UK in September 2018.
It resides in wild animals but humans can catch it through direct contact with animals, such as handling monkeys, or eating inadequately cooked meat.
The virus can enter the body through broken skin, the respiratory tract, or the eyes, nose or mouth.
It can pass between humans via droplets in the air, and by touching the skin of an infected individual, or touching objects contaminated by them.
Symptoms usually appear within five and 21 days of infection. These include a fever, headache, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills and fatigue.
The most obvious symptom is a rash, which usually appears on the face before spreading to other parts of the body. This then forms skin lesions that scab and fall off.
Monkeypox is usually mild, with most patients recovering within a few weeks without treatment. Yet, the disease can often prove fatal.
There are no specific treatments or vaccines available for monkeypox infection, according to the World Health Organization.