Monkeypox was given low risk status after a patient with the disease was found in the UK. The virus infection can cause some strange symptoms, but catching them is difficult
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Officials have insisted the risk of monkeypox to the public is very low after a patient who recently traveled to Nigeria caught the viral infection and is being treated.
Monkeypox has been confirmed in one person in the UK and the government is now monitoring the situation.
Britain’s Health Security Agency (UKHSA) confirmed the single infection on May 7 and said the patient was being treated at London’s Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust in the infectious disease expert unit.
UKHSA experts are contacting the infected person’s colleagues to offer health tips and advice, but insist it is just a ‘precautionary measure’.
dr Nicholas Price, director of the department, said: “The patient is being treated in our specialist isolation ward at St Thomas’ Hospital by experienced clinical staff using strict infection prevention procedures.”
In the wake of the Covid pandemic, warnings about little-known diseases like monkeypox can seem alarming, but experts caring for the patient have insisted the overall risk to the general public is very small.
What is monkeypox?
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Monkeypox is a viral infection first discovered in 1958 and known to be more common in monkeys.
Two outbreaks in research monkey colonies were recorded in 1958, but the first human case was not recorded until 1970 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
dr Colin Brown of the UKHSA said: “It is important to stress that monkeypox does not spread easily between people and the overall risk to the general public is very low.”
The UKHSA described the disease as “mild” but it can be serious in some cases.
It states: “Monkeypox is a rare viral infection that does not easily spread between humans. It’s usually a mild, self-limiting illness and most people recover within a few weeks. However, some individuals may develop serious illness.”
What are the symptoms of monkeypox?
Symptoms of monkeypox include a high fever and chickenpox-like blisters, which the NHS says the disease is often confused with.
Rashes usually appear one to five days after a person’s first symptoms and often start on the face before spreading to different parts of the patient’s body.
According to the health service, symptoms usually disappear between two and four weeks.
A full list of symptoms includes:
- tremors (chills)
- a high temperature
- swollen glands
- Muscle cramp
- back pain
How does a person get monkeypox?
A person can get monkeypox from contact with infected wildlife, mainly in West and Central Africa.
The NHS explained: “It is believed to be spread by rodents such as rats, mice and squirrels. You can get monkeypox from an infected animal if you are bitten or touch its blood, bodily fluids, spots, blisters, or scabs.”
Infected raw meat can also allow a person to contract the disease, or by touching fur, but human-to-human transmission is very rare.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says the following countries have reported cases of monkeypox:
- Central African Republic
- Ivory Coast
- Democratic Republic of Congo
- Republic of the Congo
- Sierra Leone
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