Four more cases of monkeypox have been identified in the UK, bringing the total number of confirmed cases of the disease to seven, according to health officials.
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) announced yesterday (Monday, May 16), that three new cases are being treated in London while doctors attempt to find links between the latest four infection, all of which appear to have been originated in the capital.
Common contacts have been established between two of the four individuals who have caught the virus.
Those needing care are being treated in specialist infectious disease units at the North East’s Royal Victoria Infirmary, in Newcastle, and at the Royal Free Hospital and Guy’s and St Thomas’, in London.
All four of the most recent cases have self-identified as gay, bisexual or other men who have sex with men, according to the UKHSA.
Dr Susan Hopkins, the agency’s chief medical adviser, called the outbreak “rare and unusual”.
She added: “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.”
Groups considered at risk have been told “to be alert” to possible symptoms, which include rashes or lesions on any part of their body, especially their genitalia, and to contact a sexual health service if they have concerns.
The rash, which can develop as part of the virus, changes and goes through different stages before finally forming a scab, which later falls off.
The health agency also said that initial symptoms of monkeypox can include:
*Swollen lymph nodes
The first case was a person who had recently travelled to Nigeria, which is where they were believed to have contracted the infection, before travelling to the UK, with concerns growing over the possibility of community transmission of the disease.