UK officials: 4 men infected with ‘rare’ monkeypox in London


LONDON (AP) — British health authorities say they have identified four “rare and unusual” cases of monkeypox among men who appear to have been infected in London and had no history of travel to African countries where the disease smallpox type is endemic.

In a statement on Monday, Britain’s Health Security Agency said an investigation had been launched into how the men became infected and whether they had any links to each other. Three of the men are in London and one in the North East of England. All men identify as gay, bisexual or men who have sex with men.

Britain last week reported three previous cases of monkeypox, including two people who lived in the same household and one who had previously traveled to Nigeria, where the disease is endemic in animals.

“Evidence suggests that there may be community transmission of monkeypox virus, spread by close contact,” said Dr Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser to the UK Health Security Agency. “We particularly urge gay and bisexual men to be aware of any unusual rashes or lesions and to contact a sexual health service without delay.”

Monkeypox is a viral disease usually transmitted by touching or being bitten by infected wild animals like rats or squirrels in West and Central Africa. The disease does not usually spread easily between people, but British health officials say it is possible if there has been extremely close contact with an infected person.

Monkeypox is not known to be a sexually transmitted disease.

UK authorities said that due to the recent spike in cases and uncertainty over monkeypox transmission, they were working with hospitals and international partners to see if there had been a similar rise in cases elsewhere. Public health experts have said doctors treating patients who develop rashes “without a clear alternative diagnosis” should seek specialist advice.

They said the risk to the general population was low and infected patients were receiving specialist care in London and Newcastle. Authorities are tracking those who had contact with the monkeypox cases, including plane passengers.

Early symptoms of monkeypox include fever, muscle aches, chills, and fatigue. In more severe cases, a rash may develop, often on the face and genitals, which resembles those seen in chickenpox and smallpox. Most people recover from the disease within a few weeks.


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