Monkeypox cases confirmed in England – latest updates

Latest

Four more cases of monkeypox indentified by UKHSA

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has detected 4 additional cases of monkeypox, 3 in London and one linked case in the north east of England.

The 4 new cases do not have known connections with the previous confirmed cases announced on 14 May and the case announced on 7 May.

Investigations are underway to establish links between the latest 4 cases, who all appear to have been infected in London. All 4 of these cases self-identify as gay, bisexual or other men who have sex with men (MSM).

Currently, common contacts have been identified for 2 of the 4 latest cases.

There is no link to travel to a country where monkeypox is endemic, and exactly where and how they acquired their infections remains under urgent investigation, including whether they have further links to each other.

Those patients needing medical care are all in specialist infectious disease units at the Royal Free Hosptial, Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle upon Tyne and Guys’ and St Thomas’. The individuals have the West African clade of the virus, which is mild compared to the Central African clade.

These latest cases mean that there are currently 7 confirmed monkeypox cases in the UK, diagnosed between 6 and 15 May.

Due to the recent increase in cases and uncertainties around where some of these individuals acquired their infection, we are working closely with NHS partners to identify if there may have been more cases in recent weeks, as well as international partners to understand if similar rises have been seen in other countries.

Monkeypox is a viral infection usually associated with travel to West Africa. It is usually a mild self-limiting illness, spread by very close contact with someone with monkeypox and most people recover within a few weeks.

The virus does not spread easily between people and the risk to the UK population is low. However, the most recent cases are in gay, bisexual and other MSM communities, and as the virus spreads through close contact, we are advising these groups to be alert to 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 with concerns that they could be infected with monkeypox is advised to make contact with clinics ahead of their visit. We can assure them their call or discussion will be treated sensitively and confidentially.

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.

Clinicians should be alert to individuals presenting with rashes without a clear alternative diagnosis and should contact specialist services for advice.

Symptoms

Initial symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion. A rash can develop, often beginning on the face, then spreading to other parts of the body including the genitals.

The rash changes and goes through different stages, and can look like chickenpox or syphilis, before finally forming a scab, which later falls off.

Previous

Saturday 14 May 2022

Two additional cases of monkeypox identified in London

Two individuals have been diagnosed with monkeypox in London, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has confirmed.

The cases live together in the same household. They are not linked to the previous confirmed case announced on 7 May. Where and how they acquired their infection remains under investigation.

Monkeypox is a rare viral infection that does not spread easily between people. It is usually a mild self-limiting illness and most people recover within a few weeks. However, severe illness can occur in some people.

The infection can be spread when someone is in close contact with an infected person, however, there is a very low risk of transmission to the general population.

One of the cases is receiving care at the expert infectious disease unit at St Mary’s Hospital, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, London. The other case is isolating and does not currently require hospital treatment.

As a precautionary measure, UKHSA experts are working closely with the individuals and NHS colleagues and will be contacting people who might have been in close contact to provide information and health advice.

People without symptoms are not considered infectious but, as a precaution, those who have been in close proximity to the individuals are being contacted to ensure that, if they do become unwell, they can be treated quickly.

Dr Colin Brown, Director of Clinical and Emerging Infections, UKHSA, said:

We have confirmed 2 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 emphasise 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 close contacts of the case. 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.

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.

Symptoms

Initial symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion.

A rash can develop, often beginning on the face, then spreading to other parts of the body, particularly the hands and feet.

The rash changes and goes through different stages before finally forming a scab, which later falls off.

Saturday 7 May 2022

Monkeypox case confirmed in England

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) can confirm an individual has been diagnosed with monkeypox in England.

The patient has a recent travel history from Nigeria, which is where they are believed to have contracted the infection, before travelling to the UK.

Monkeypox is a rare viral infection that does not spread easily between people. It is usually a mild self-limiting illness and most people recover within a few weeks. However, severe illness can occur in some individuals.

The infection can be spread when someone is in close contact with an infected person; however, there is a very low risk of transmission to the general population.

The patient is receiving care at the expert infectious disease unit at the Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, London.

As a precautionary measure, UKHSA experts are working closely with NHS colleagues and will be contacting people who might have been in close contact with the individual to provide information and health advice.

This includes contacting a number of passengers who travelled in close proximity to the patient on the same flight to the UK. People without symptoms are not considered infectious but, as a precaution, those who have been in close proximity are being contacted to ensure that if they do become unwell they can be treated quickly. If passengers are not contacted then there is no action they should take.

Dr Colin Brown, Director of Clinical and Emerging Infections, UKHSA, said:

It is important to emphasise that monkeypox does not spread easily between people and the overall risk to the general public is very low.

We are working with NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSEI) 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.

Dr Nicholas Price, Director NHSE High Consequence Infection Diseases (airborne) Network and Consultant in Infectious Diseases at Guy’s and St Thomas’, said:

The patient is being treated in our specialist isolation unit at St Thomas’ Hospital by expert clinical staff with strict infection prevention procedures. This is a good example of the way that the High Consequence Infectious Diseases national network and UKHSA work closely together in responding swiftly and effectively to these sporadic cases.

Initial symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion. A rash can develop, often beginning on the face, then spreading to other parts of the body. The rash changes and goes through different stages before finally forming a scab, which later falls off.

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