Britain is seeing a daily outbreak of the rare monkeypox virus that is unrelated to any travel in West Africa, where the disease is endemic, a health official said on Sunday.
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said new figures would be released on Monday after 20 cases were registered on Friday.
“Absolutely,” said Susan Hopkins, the UKHSA’s chief medical adviser, when asked if community transmission was normal in Britain.
He told BBC television: “We are finding cases with which there is no known contact with any person in West Africa, which we have seen before in this country.”
“We are identifying more cases every day.”
Hopkins declined to confirm reports that one person was in intensive care, but said the outbreak was concentrated in urban areas between gay or bisexual men.
“The risk to the general population remains extremely low at the moment, and I think people need to be aware of this,” he said, adding that the symptoms would be “relatively mild” for most adults.
The first UK case was announced on 7 May, a patient who had recently traveled to Nigeria. The disease is also spreading in Europe and North America.
Monkeypox can be transmitted through contact with a infected person’s skin wounds and blisters, as well as through shared items such as beds and towels.
Symptoms include fever, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills, fatigue, and chickenpox-like rashes on the hands and face. They are usually cleared after two to four weeks.
There is no specific treatment but vaccines against smallpox have been shown to be about 85 percent effective in preventing monkeypox.
Education Secretary Nadeem Jahawi says the UK government has already begun stockpiling smallpox vaccines.
“We take it very seriously,” he told the BBC.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published from a syndicated feed.)