- The pair live together in the same household, the UK Health Security Agency said
- One person receiving care at St Mary’s Hospital’s expert infectious disease unit
- The other person is isolating and does not currently require hospital treatment
- Health bosses emphasized that overall risk to the general public remains ‘very low’
Two more people have been diagnosed with monkeypox in the UK in cases not linked to the previous infection, health bosses said today. One of the two people – who live in the same household – is being treated in a hospital, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said. The cases, which are the eighth and ninth ever confirmed in the UK, are not connected to the previously confirmed case in England announced on May 7.
Close contacts of the latest two cases are being offered information and health advice ‘as a precautionary measure’, the UKHSA said. Monkeypox is a rare viral infection that kills up to one in ten of those infected but does not spread easily among people. The disease was first detected in the UK in 2018 after a traveler brought the virus back from Nigeria and it spread to two other people, including one NHS nurse who caught it from bed linen.
Health bosses said it is important to emphasize that the overall risk to the general public remains ‘very low. One of the latest cases is being cared for at the infectious diseases unit at St Mary’s Hospital, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, in London. The other person is isolated and does not currently require hospital treatment, the UKHSA said. Health officials added they are investigating where and how the pair acquired their infection.
The case announced earlier this month was a person with a recent travel history from Nigeria, which is where they were believed to have contracted the infection, before traveling to the UK. Dr. Colin Brown, director of clinical and emerging infections at the UKHSA, said: ‘We have confirmed two new monkeypox cases in England that are not linked to the case announced on May 7.
‘While investigations remain ongoing to determine the source of infection, it is important to emphasize it does not spread easily between people and requires close personal contact with an infected symptomatic person. The overall risk to the general public remains very low. We are contacting any potential friends, family, or contacts in the community. We are also working with the NHS to reach any healthcare contacts who have had close contact with the cases prior to confirmation of their infection, to assess them as necessary and provide advice.’
He said the 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. Professor Julian Redhead, medical director at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, said: ‘We are caring for a patient in our specialist high consequence infectious diseases unit at St Mary’s Hospital.
‘All of the necessary infectious control procedures have been followed and we are working closely with UKHSA and NHS England.’ 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 western 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 traveled 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 travelers who had been to Nigeria.