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New strain of Monkeypox detected in the UK

Daisy Phillipson

Published 
| Last updated 

New strain of Monkeypox detected in the UK

A new strain of monkeypox has been detected in the UK, according to health officials.

In its latest update, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said the individual contracted the virus after a recent trip to West Africa.

A preliminary genomic sequencing check indicated that the strain is different to the one currently circulating in the UK.

The government health agency went on to say that the person has been admitted to the High Consequence Infectious Disease (HCID) unit at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital.

Contract tracing is now being carried out, but so far no other linked cases have been determined.

Monkeypox often causes a distinctive rash. Credit: Jozef Polc/Alamy Stock Photo
Monkeypox often causes a distinctive rash. Credit: Jozef Polc/Alamy Stock Photo

Dr Sophia Maki, Incident Director, UKHSA, said in a statement; "We are working to contact the individuals who have had close contact with the case prior to confirmation of their infection, to assess them as necessary and provide advice.

"UKHSA and the NHS have well established and robust infection control procedures for dealing with cases of imported infectious disease and these will be strictly followed and the risk to the general public is very low.

"We remind everyone who is planning to travel to West and Central Africa to be alert for the symptoms of monkeypox and to call 111 if you have symptoms on your return.

"The ACDP has previously advised that importations of monkeypox directly from West Africa as well as cases caused by Clade I of the virus should still be classified as HCIDs as we cannot predict their characteristics."

Preliminary tests indicated the strain is different to the one circulating in the UK right now. Credit: Creative Commons
Preliminary tests indicated the strain is different to the one circulating in the UK right now. Credit: Creative Commons

According to the UKHSA's latest figures, there are 3,389 confirmed and highly probably cases of monkeypox in the UK, 3,239 of which are in England.

Although new cases are being identified, overall figures are starting to slow - but experts have urged people to still stay vigilant against the virus.

Monkeypox can spread to anyone through close, personal and often skin-to-skin contact.

Symptoms include a high temperature, headache, muscle aches, joint pain, backache and swollen glands, followed by a distinctive rash which can turn into painful blisters.

Most people recover after a few weeks on their own although if the symptoms are severe they may need hospital treatment.

Speaking about the declining number of cases in the country, Dr Meera Chand, Director of Clinical and Emerging Infections, UKHSA, said: "It is encouraging that the number of new monkeypox cases in the UK continues to fall, however the outbreak in the UK and around the world is not over.

"Please remember to check yourself for symptoms such as rashes and blisters, particularly if you have had new sexual partners recently and before you have sex with new partners.

"If you do have symptoms, please take a break from sex, and call 111 or a sexual health clinic. Symptoms can take up to three weeks to appear.

"If you are eligible for a vaccine, please wait to be called forward by the NHS and you will receive one once supply is available in your area."

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock

Topics: UK News, Health

Daisy Phillipson
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