One nation is dealing with a sharp rise in cases of monkeypox, sparking fresh warnings from health authorities, as the virus continues its global spread.
A further 36 cases of monkeypox cases have been detected in England, taking the country’s total to 56.
One case of the virus has also been reported by Scotland today.
The monkeypox outbreak, now spanning some 20 countries including Australia, is mystifying health leaders.
It is endemic in West and Central Africa, but extremely rare elsewhere.
However, between 100 and 200 confirmed and suspected cases have been detected in recent weeks across the world.
In Australia, there has been one confirmed case of monkeypox in Victoria and one probable case in Victoria, both in people who had recently returned from overseas.
The UK Health and Security Agency (UKHSA) said while the current outbreak is “significant and concerning”, the risk to the UK population remains low.
But people should be alert to the symptoms of the disease, which includes a flu-like illness before a blistering rash, which starts on the face, hands and feet.
A notable number of cases are among men who are gay and bisexual, which is being closely investigated.
Monkeypox is not considered to be a sexually transmitted infection (STI). However, it can be spread through sexual contact when someone touches the lesions of an infected person.
It can be spread through touching clothing, bedding or towels used by someone with the monkeypox rash.
Coughs and sneezes are also a mode of transmission.
“Alongside reports of further cases being identified in other countries globally, we continue to identify additional cases in the UK,” the UKHSA’s chief medical adviser Dr Susan Hopkins said.
“Because the virus spreads through close contact, we are urging everyone to be aware of any unusual rashes or lesions and to contact a sexual health service if they have any symptoms.
“A notable proportion of recent cases in the UK and Europe have been found in gay and bisexual men so we are particularly encouraging these men to be alert to the symptoms.”
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said monkeypox was a rare disease but it was important to “keep an eye on it”.
“It’s basically a very rare disease and so far the consequences don’t seem to be very serious,” Mr Johnson said.
“But it’s important that we keep an eye on it and that’s exactly what the new UK Health Security Agency is doing.”
The UK Government has stocks of a vaccine for smallpox – an eradicated virus of the same family – which is around 85 per cent effective against monkeypox.
It is being offered to very close contacts of those who are symptomatic in order to prevent further spread.
Although monkeypox has been known for 40 years, the World Health Organisation (WHO) noted why this explosion of cases was different.
It is the first time there had been several cases without links to travel to the 11 endemic nations in Africa.
And it is unusual there are so many cases across many countries simultaneously.
The WHO’s emerging disease lead Maria Van Kerkhove said the situation was “containable”.
Meanwhile, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) director, Andrea Ammon, said most of the cases had mild symptoms.
“For the broader population, the likelihood of spread is very low,” Dr Ammon added in a statement.
Symptoms of monkeypox
Initial symptoms of monkeypox include:
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 genitalia.
The rash changes and goes through different stages. At first it can look like chickenpox, before bumps become raised and filled with pus. These lesions finally form a scab, which later falls off.
This article originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced with permission