Four more people have been diagnosed with monkeypox in the UK, bringing the total number of cases to seven. The new cases had no travel links to Africa.
Three of the cases have been detected in London, and one in the North East of England, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) announced on Monday.
The health agency is working to find links between the latest four cases, which all appear to have been infected in the capital.
Common contacts have been established between two of the four individuals who have caught the virus.
Undated handout image issued by the UK Health Security Agency of the stages of Monkeypox. UK Health Security Agency
Those needing care are being treated in specialist infectious disease units at the Royal Free Hospital, Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle upon Tyne and Guy’s and St Thomas’.
UKHSA added that all four of the most recent cases self-identify as gay, bisexual or other men who have sex with men.
The health body is therefore asking these groups “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.
This year the disease was first diagnosed in individual in the England on 7 May.
The patient at the Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust in London had recently traveled from Nigeria, which is where they are believed to have contracted the infection, before travelling to the UK.
Prior to the recent increase in cases, the first UK case of monkeypox was recorded in September 2018. The individual was also believed to have contracted the infection in Nigeria.
Initial symptoms include fever, headache, aching muscles, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion.
Monkeypox WHO/ Nigeria Centre for Disease Control
A rash can also develop, usually starting on the face before spreading to other parts of the body. It eventually forms a scab which falls off.
PHE said monkeypox does not spread easily and most patients recover within a few weeks, but it can cause severe illness in some people.
Dr Colin Brown, director of clinical and emerging infections at the UKHSA, said: “It is important to emphasise that monkeypox does not spread easily between people and the overall risk to the general public is very low.
“We are working with NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSEI) to contact the individuals who have had close contact with the case prior to confirmation of their infection, to assess them as necessary and provide advice.”
“UKHSA 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.”