05 December 2019 10:32
The authorities are now contacting those who have been in close contact with the patient as a "precaution" A patient is being treated at Guy's and St Thomas's after contracting the rare monkeypox infection. They are believed to have contracted it while visiting Nigeria. The infection causes a distinctive rash, often on the face, before scabbing over, alongside fever-like symptoms. Public health authorities have sought to reassure the public that the virus does not spread easily and that any risk "is very low." "Monkeypox does not spread easily between people and the overall risk to the general public is very low," said Dr Meera Chand, Consultant Microbiologist at Public Health England. "We are following up with those who have had close contact with the patient to offer advice and to monitor them as necessary." The patient had been staying in south west England before being transferred to Guy's and St Thomas's specialist high consequence infectious disease centre.
Monkeypox is usually self-limiting, say experts, but some individuals can suffer severe illness as a result. The authorities are now contacting people who might have been in close contact with the patient, including those who were in close proximity to them on the same flight to the UK. These "rapid infection control procedures" are a precaution, says Public Health England. "PHE 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 to minimise the risk of transmission," added Dr Chand. The first UK cases of monkeypox were reported 2018.
The agency stressed that monkeypox does not spread easily between people and the risk to the general public in Britain is "very low." Its effects are usually mild, with symptoms including fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion. In rare cases, however, monkeypox--which is closely related to the smallpox virus--can be deadly. Health officials said they're working to find persons the patient may have come into close contact with, including passengers who traveled on the same flight from Nigeria to Britain. Although there is no treatment or cure for monkeypox, the smallpox vaccine has been somewhat effective against the virus due to the diseases' similarity. The first three British cases of monkeypox were recorded in September 2018. One patient was a Nigerian national living at at a naval base in Cornwall. The second was a separate case, but had also been to Nigeria. At least one case of monkeypox was also recorded in Singapore this year, which officials believe might be related to the outbreak in Nigeria. An outbreak arrived in the United States in 2003, sickening 71 people. A patient who visited Nigeria has been diagnosed with the tropical disease Monkeypox. The patient was admitted to the disease centre at Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust in London. Although he is the only person in the UK who is currently showing symptoms, others who have been in close proximity to him have been contacted by health officials. What is monkeypox? Monkeypox is a rare viral disease which is usually found in central and western Africa. It is a zootonic disease, which means it is caused by parasites, bacteria and viruses which can switch between humans and animals. Another major disease which falls into this category is the Ebola virus, which killed more than 11,000 people during an outbreak in west Africa between 2014 and 2016. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), monkeypox is similar to smallpox, which was eradicated in 1980 – although it is typically less severe. Monkeypox virus in the UK: What is Monkeypox? The monkeypox virus The disease is usually found in rainforest regions, and animal carries include rope squirrels, tree squirrels, Gambian rats, striped mice, dormice and primates. Monkeypox is rare in the western world, although there were three cases in the UK in 2018. The first and biggest outbreak in the western world came in 2003, when 43 US residents were diagnosed with the virus. Health authorities believe the outbreak was caused by the importation of prairie dogs which were kept as pets and had been imported from Africa. READ MORE: What is monkeypox? The rash can develop as pustules, which are large pus-filled lumps It can also be passed on through human-to-human contact, in a manner similar to (but not quite as potently) as the flu. The disease can be passed on via sneezing, contaminated objects or surfaces and contact with skin lesions. According to the NHS: "It's usually a mild illness that will get better on its own without treatment. Some people can develop more serious symptoms, so patients with monkeypox in the UK are cared for in specialist hospitals." DON'T MISS Pandemic warning: Every country in the world is at risk Ebola alert: Swedish hospital says patient is showing signs Congo's ex-health chief charged with embezzlement under house arrest Health authorities believe the US outbreak was caused by the importation of prairie dogs What are the symptoms? Symptoms of monkeypox are similar to those of smallpox, with a characteristic widespread rash. The infection has an incubation period of roughly five to 21 days, and initial symptoms present similarly to the flu. A fever and intense headache start off the infection, after which lymph nodes swell, in a condition named lymphadenopathy. After this, people will start to feel weak and tired before they begin to break out in a rash. There were three cases of monkeypox in the UK last year The rash starts to appear from one to three days into infection, initially as flat skin lesions called maculopapules. These then develop into a raised rash before growing outwards as pustules, which are large pus-filled lumps. Countries with confirmed cases of monkeypox (purple indicates it was imported)