According to a story from The Guardian, the viral disease monkeypox has been reported in the UK for the first time. The first patient was diagnosed on September 8th and is a Nigerian citizen; the second, discovered on the 11th, had just returned from a visit to that country. Though the disease may sound scary, it does not spread very easily. Most patients recover in a few weeks, although some people can become very sick from it.
Monkeypox is an infectious disease which is caused by the monkeypox virus. The virus normally resides in African rodents, but it can be transmitted to humans in a variety of ways, such as contact with an infected person, a bite or scratch from an animal that carries it, handling bushmeat (the flesh of wild animals), body fluids, or contact with contaminated objects. The use of African rodents as food is probably the main way the virus infects people. Symptoms are similar to smallpox but less severe, and may include a blistering rash covering much of the body, swollen lymph nodes, headache, muscle pain, and fever. The disease can last as little as two or as much as five weeks. Symptoms can appear as late as 21 days after exposure. Treatment options are limited but include antiviral medication; the smallpox vaccine can prevent infection. To learn more about monkeypox, click here.
Little Cause For Concern
Considering the fact that it is fairly difficult for the disease to spread between people, it is somewhat surprising to find these first two recorded cases popping up within days of each other. With that said, it is almost impossible that the second patient received the disease from the first; hospital staff are ensuring that all precautions are being taken in order to prevent spread of the virus. The disease is only fatal in about 10 percent of cases.
Dr. Nick Phin with Public Health England says that the virus is most likely still circulating in Nigeria after a notable outbreak about a year ago. At this juncture, the authorities are attempting to reach out to individuals that were in close proximity to the first patient on their flight to the UK, as they are at the greatest risk of exposure.