UK officials: 4 men infected with “rare” monkeypox in London

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LONDON – British health authorities say they have identified four “rare and unusual” cases of monkeypox in men who appear to be infected in London and have no history of traveling to African countries where the disease, like smallpox, is endemic.

In a statement on Monday, the UK Health Protection Agency said it had launched an investigation into how the men became infected and whether they had any contact with each other. Three of the men were in London and one in north-east England. Men are all identified as homosexual, bisexual or having sex with men.

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

Dr Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser at the UK Health Safety Agency, said: “Evidence suggests that the monkeypox virus may be transmitted to the community through close contact.” “We urge gay and bisexual men in particular to be aware of any abnormal rashes or lesions and to contact sexual health services without delay.”

Monkeypox is a viral disease that is commonly spread in West and Central Africa by touching or biting infected wild animals such as rats or squirrels. The disease does not usually spread easily to humans, but British health officials say it is possible if there is very close contact with an infected person.

Monkeypox is not known to be a sexually transmitted disease.

British authorities say the recent increase in cases and uncertainty over how the monkeypox is being transmitted has led to a similar increase in cases elsewhere to see if they are working with hospitals and international partners. Public health experts say doctors treating patients who develop rashes “without a clear alternative diagnosis” should seek expert advice.

They said the risk was lower for the general public and that infected patients were receiving specialist care in London and Newcastle. Authorities are searching for those who were involved in the MonkeyPix case, including the plane’s passengers.

Early symptoms of monkeypox include fever, muscle aches, chills, and fatigue. In more severe cases, a rash may form on the face and genitals, often resembling chickenpox and smallpox. Most people recover from an illness within a few weeks.

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