The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has identified more cases of monkeypox in the UK after the first case was confirmed earlier this month.
The total number of cases identified now stands at seven, with three new additional cases having been found in London and one linked case in the north east of England.
Two cases were identified on 14 May following the initial announcement on 7 May, when the health agency said the patient was receiving care at the Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust in London after travelling to the UK from Nigeria, where they are believed to have contracted the infection.
The four new cases do not have any known connections to the previous three cases, but investigations are underway to establish links between the latest infections.
All four patients appear to have been infected in London and self-identify as gay, bisexual or other men who have sex with men (MSM), though there is currently no known link to travel to a country where monkeypox is endemic.
Commenting on the increasing number of cases, Dr Susan Hopkins, Chief Medical Adviser, UKHSA, said: "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.
"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. We are contacting any potential close contacts of the cases to provide health information and advice."
UKHSA has detected four new cases of monkeypox – three in London and one in the North East of England 🧵Thread:— UK Health Security Agency (@UKHSA) May 16, 2022
These cases do not have known connections to the previous confirmed cases announced on May 7 and May 14. Read more: https://t.co/e8jksQo9Av
So far it has been determined that two of the four cases have contacts in common, though the UKHSA is seeking to determine exactly where and how they acquired their infections.
Initial symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headache, muscle aches, backache and exhaustion, as well as sometimes a rash which can develop on the face before spreading to other parts of the body. It typically only causes mild illnesses, but severe illness can occur in some individuals.
The individuals in the UK have the West African clade of the virus, which is mild compared to the Central African clade, according to a release from the UKHSA yesterday (16 May). Those needing medical care as a result of the infection are being treated in specialist infectious disease units at the Royal Free Hosptial, Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle upon Tyne and Guys’ and St Thomas’.
All four of the latest cases appear to have been infected in London and there is no travel link to a country where monkeypox is endemic.— UK Health Security Agency (@UKHSA) May 16, 2022
Where and how they acquired their infections remains under urgent investigation.
The increase in cases has prompted the agency to work with NHS partners to identify if there may have been more cases of monkeypox in recent weeks.
It has stressed that the virus does not spread easily between people, but is advising people in gay, bisexual and other MSM communities to be aware of any unusual rashes or lesions on any part of their body, especially their genitalia, and to contact a sexual health service if they have concerns.
Anyone who believes they could be infected with monkeypox is advised to make contact with clinics ahead of their visit.
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