Monkeypox – United Kingdom

The World Health Organization (WHO) said the number of confirmed cases of monkeypox infections increased to 92. Information is derived from 12 non-endemic countries in the three WHO regions. 92 cases have been laboratory confirmed and 28 are being tested.

There is no link between infection and travel to a region where monkeypox is endemic, the WHO said. They called it a "highly unusual event" to detect the disease in people who have not visited endemic countries. According to reports, they became infected through close physical contact. Cases of the disease were detected mainly among men after sex with men. Studies of a biological sample from Portugal indicate that the infection was imported from Nigeria to the UK, Israel and Singapore in 2018 and 2019.

The WHO has recommended continuing to identify contact between sick and healthy people and intends to convene experts to discuss vaccination recommendations.

Photo: Smallpox virus, a close relative of Monkeypox – Electron micrograph.

Monkeypox is a rare viral disease that mostly occurs in Central and West Africa. The disease is similar to smallpox and involves blistered skin but it is often milder. Humans can be infected by an animal via a bite, or by direct contact with an infected animal’s bodily fluids. The virus can also spread from human to human, by respiratory (airborne) contact or by contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids.

The smallpox vaccine can protect against monkeypox.

The virus was first identified in 1958 among laboratory monkeys. The first cases in humans were found in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

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