UK officials: 4 men infected with ‘rare’ monkeypox in London

LONDON (AP) — British health authorities say they have identified four “rare and unusual” cases of monkeypox disease among men who appear to have been infected in London and had no travel history to African countries where the disease similar to smallpox is present. endemic.

In a statement on Monday, the UK Health Security Agency said an investigation had been launched into how the men became infected and whether they had any links to each other. Three of the men are in London and one is in the northeast of England. All men identify as gay, bisexual, or men who have sex with men.

Last week, Britain reported three previous cases of monkeypox, including two people who lived in the same household and another who had previously traveled to Nigeria, where the disease is endemic in animals.

“Evidence suggests there may be community transmission of monkeypox virus, spread by close contact,” said Dr. Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser at the UK Health Security Agency. “We particularly urge men who are gay and bisexual to be aware of any unusual rashes or lesions and to contact a sexual health service without delay.”

Monkeypox is a viral disease that is usually spread by touching or being bitten by infected wild animals such as rats or squirrels in West and Central Africa. The disease doesn’t usually spread easily between people, but British health officials say it’s possible if there was extremely close contact with an infected person.

Monkeypox is not known to be a sexually transmitted disease.

British authorities said that due to the recent rise in cases and uncertainty about how monkeypox was transmitted, they were working with hospitals and international partners to see if there had been a similar rise elsewhere. Public health experts said doctors treating patients who develop rashes “without a clear alternative diagnosis” should seek specialist advice.

They said the risk to the general population was low and infected patients received specialist care in London and Newcastle. Authorities are tracing people who had contact with the monkeypox cases, including passengers on the plane.

Early symptoms of monkeypox include fever, muscle pain, chills, and fatigue. In more severe cases, a rash may develop, often on the face and genitals, resembling those seen in chickenpox and smallpox. Most people recover from the illness in several weeks.

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