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Two monkeypox cases discovered in United Kingdom from patients travelling from Nigeria

13 September 2018

A second person has been diagnosed with monkeypox in England, a few days after the first case.

The disease, called monkeypox, was diagnosed in a person staying at a naval base in Cornwall, England, according to a statement issued Saturday (Sept. 8) by Public Health England, the United Kingdom health agency investigating the case. At present he has been shifted to Liverpool University Hospital for further treatment.

The index case of Monkeypox or the first case was from Cornwall and was also in a patient who had visited Nigeria.

Monkeypox is generally self-limiting, which means patients tend to recover in a couple of weeks.

In a statement on Wednesday by its Chief Executive Officer, Chikwe Ihekweazu, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said it is working with the UK's public health agency; Public Health England (PHE), and other partners in Nigeria in the investigation.

"Once the patient was recognised as having a contagious condition, they were rapidly transferred to an isolation unit to ensure minimal risk to staff and patients", a spokesman for Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said.

A rash can then develop, usually on the face before spreading around the body.

Dr Nick Phin, deputy director, National Infection Service at PHE: "We know that in September 2017 Nigeria experienced a large sustained outbreak of monkeypox and since then sporadic cases have continued to be reported".

He added PHE was contacting people who may have come into contact with the latest patient. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) advised against any restriction on travel in the area at the time as it said there was a "low risk" that worldwide travellers would come into contact with the infection.

"The patient is being cared for on our specialist infectious and tropical diseases unit, by highly trained staff who are experienced in dealing with a variety of infectious diseases", he said.

Transmission is via direct contact with infected animals, human, or contaminated materials.

Symptoms usually appear within five and 21 days of infection. It is a rare disease caused by the monkeypox virus and has been reported mainly in central and west African countries.

Monkeypox is a rare viral infection, similar to smallpox though not as deadly, that was first discovered in monkeys in 1958.

The recent outbreak in Nigeria - the first since 1978 - resulted in 172 suspected and 61 confirmed cases (across 14 states) between September and December 2017.

"We therefore encourage any healthcare worker that suspects a case of Monkeypox, to reach out to their State Epidemiology team for appropriate action".