A man in England was diagnosed with a rare viral infection smallpox monkeysThis was reported by the UK Health Agency (UKHSA).
The patient recently left with Nigeriawhere they are thought to have contracted the infection before arriving in the UK.
The man is receiving care at the Infectious Diseases Unit in Guy and St. Thomas in London.
Smallpox is not easily transmitted between humans, but can be transmitted when someone is in close contact with an infected person.
According to UKHSA, there is a very low risk of infecting the general population.
Experts are now working closely with the NHS, the report said, adding that it will contact people who may have been in close contact with the person to provide information and advice on health.
There will also be a number of passengers traveling in close proximity to the patient on the same flight to the UK, the health agency said.
Although asymptomatic people are not considered infectious, as a precautionary measure those who have been around an infected person are contacted to ensure that in the event of ill health they can be treated quickly, the UKHSA added.
Dr Colin Brown, director of clinical and new infections at UKHSA, said: “It is important to emphasize that monkeypox is not spread among humans and the overall risk to the population is very low.
“We are working with the NHS England and the NHS Improvement (NHSE) to contact individuals who have had close contact with the case before confirming their infection to assess them as needed and give advice.
“The UKHSA and NHS have well-established and reliable infection control procedures to control cases of imported infectious diseases, and they will be strictly enforced.”
Dr Nicholas Price, director of the NHSE Infectious Diseases Network with high implications (airborne) and consultant on infectious diseases in Guy and St. Thomas, said: “The patient is being treated in our specialized ward at St. Thomas Hospital by clinical staff experts with strict infection prevention procedures.
“This is a good example of how the National Network of Infectious Diseases with High Consequences and UKHSA are working closely together to respond quickly and effectively to these sporadic cases.”
Initial symptoms of monkeypox include:
- Muscle aches
- Back pain
- Swollen lymph nodes
Other symptoms include a rash that can develop, often starting on the face and then spreading to other parts of the body. The rash changes and goes through various stages before finally forming a scab that later falls off.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), monkeypox is a viral zoonosis – and virus transmitted to humans from animals – with symptoms similar to those seen in the past in smallpox patients.
Since 1970, monkey infections have been reported in 11 African countries: Benin, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Nigeria, the Republic of the Congo, Sierra Leone and South Sudan.
In 2017, Nigeria had the largest recorded outbreak, 40 years after the last confirmed case. The true severity of monkeypox is unknown.