Four new UK cases of monkeypox identified, bringing total to seven

17 May 2022, 07:09

The monkeypox virus: More cases have been identified
The monkeypox virus: More cases have been identified. Picture: Alamy

By Megan Hinton

Four further cases of monkeypox have been identified by UK health officials - three in London and one linked case in the north east of England.

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

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has launched investigations to establish links between the latest four cases, who all appear to have been infected in London.

All four of the latest cases self-identify as gay, bisexual or other men who have sex with men (MSM), the UKHSA said.

The patients needing medical care are all in specialist infectious disease units at the Royal Free Hospital, Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle upon Tyne and Guys’ and St Thomas’.

The individuals have the West African version of the virus, which is mild compared to the Central African version.

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

The latest cases come days after two people living together were diagnosed with the condition in London.

The pair live together in the same household and are not linked to the previous confirmed case in England which was announced on May 7, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said.

Of these cases, one person is receiving care at the expert infectious disease unit at St Mary's Hospital, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust in London.

The other person is isolating and does not currently require hospital treatment, the UKHSA said.

Health officials said they are investigating where and how the latest cases of monkeypox acquired their infection.

People who might have been in close contact with either case are being contacted and given information and health advice, the UKHSA said.

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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."

The first UK case of monkeypox was recorded in September 2018. The individual was also believed to have contracted the infection in Nigeria.

It is usually a mild illness and most people recover within a few weeks. However, severe illness can occur in some individuals.

Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion.

A rash can also develop, often beginning on the face, then spreading to other parts of the body, the UKHSA said.