Cases of monkeypox – a viral zoonotic disease – have been identified in the UK.
Health officials have confirmed that two cases of monkeypox have been identified in North Wales, and one person remains in hospital.
But what is this disease – and should we be worried?
Here are some facts about monkeypox:
What is monkeypox?
A rare disease caused by a viral infection.
How does it spread?
Most commonly when a person comes into close contact with an infected animal.
It is not spread easily between people and most who contract the infection recover within a few weeks, although severe illness can occur in some people.
What are the symptoms?
Infected people usually start to show symptoms between five and 21 days after infection.
These include fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion.
How serious is it?
Most patients recover within a few weeks and do not need treatment, but it can cause severe illness in some people.
Why is it called monkeypox?
The disease was first discovered in monkeys kept for research in 1958.
The first human case was recorded in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Where is it prevalent?
Cases have been reported in a number of countries in Africa, including Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia and Nigeria.
An outbreak occurred in America in 2003 after rodents were imported from Africa.
There was a sustained outbreak in Nigeria last year and there have been sporadic cases reported since then.
The NHS says the risk of catching monkeypox in the UK is “very low” and that it is a usually a mild illness that will get better on its own without treatment”.
What is the latest with the cases in Wales?
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the UK was “dealing with an outbreak of monkeypox, and cases of drug-resistant TB” (Tuberculosis).
Public Health Wales issued a statement confirming that two cases of imported monkeypox had been identified.
It reads: “Public Health Wales and Public Health England are monitoring two cases of imported monkeypox identified in North Wales.
“The index case was acquired overseas, and the two cases are members of the same household. Both cases were admitted to a hospital in England, where one currently remains.
“Monitoring and follow-up of the cases and their close contacts are undertaken as part of normal practice, and the risk to the general public is very low.”
Richard Firth, Consultant in Health Protection at Public Health Wales, added: “Confirmed cases of monkeypox are a rare event in the UK, and the risk to the general public is very low.
“We have worked with multi agency colleagues, following tried and tested protocols and procedures, and identified all close contacts. Actions have been put in place to minimise the likelihood of further infection.
“Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by the monkeypox virus and has been reported mainly in central and West African countries.
“Monkeypox, in most cases, is a mild condition which will resolve on its own and have no long-term effects on a person’s health. Most people recover within a few weeks.”
- For further information see: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/monkeypox/