Potentially fatal Monkeypox has been diagnosed in the UK for the first time – here are the symptoms

Potentially fatal Monkeypox has been diagnosed in the UK for the first time – here are the symptoms
Monkeypox has never been seen in the UK before. But should we be worried? (Photo: Shutterstock)

Monkeypox has been diagnosed in the UK for the first time, Public Health England has confirmed.

But just what is the viral infection, what are the symptoms, and are the general public at risk?

First UK case confirmed

The potentially fatal disease, which is usually found in central and west Africa, was recorded on Friday in a Nigerian national staying at a naval base in Cornwall.

The patient, whose identity has not been revealed, was transferred to the infectious disease unit at the Royal Free Hospital in London on Saturday morning.

The patient is thought to have contracted the infection in Nigeria before travelling to the UK.

Monkeypox. Photo: Wikipedia.

What is monkeypox?

Monkeypox is usually a mild self-limiting illness and most people recover within a few weeks. But severe illness can occur in some individuals.

The infection can be spread when someone is in close contact with an infected person, however there is a very low risk of transmission to the general population.

Initial symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion.

A rash can develop, often beginning on the face, then spreading to other parts of the body. The rash changes and goes through different stages before finally forming a scab, which later falls off.

Monkeypox is most commonly found in central and west Africa. Photo: Wikipedia

Is there cause for concern?

Authorities say the general public is not at risk of getting the rare infection – but they are taking every precaution to quarantine the patient.

Dr Michael Jacobs, clinical director of infection at the Royal Free said in a statement: “Monkeypox is, in most cases, a mild condition which will resolve on its own and have no long-term effects on a person’s health. Most people recover within several weeks.

“It is a rare disease caused by monkeypox virus, and has been reported mainly in central and west African countries.

“It does not spread easily between people and the risk of transmission to the wider public is very low. We are using strict isolation procedures in hospital to protect our staff and patients.”

Risk to the general public ‘very low’

Dr Nick Phin, deputy director of the National Infection Service at Public Health England, added: “It is important to emphasise that monkeypox does not spread easily between people and the overall risk to the general public is very low.

“Public Health England is following up those who have had close contact with the patient to offer advice and to monitor them as necessary.

“PHE and the NHS have well established and robust infection control procedures for dealing with cases of imported infectious disease and these will be strictly followed to minimise the risk of transmission.”