A second patient in England has been diagnosed with monkeypox, health officials have said, three days after the first case of the rare virus was confirmed.
According to The Guardian, Public Health England (PHE) said it was unusual to see two cases in such a short space of time and officials were searching for anyone, including medical staff, who had come into contact with either patient, to offer them health advice.
They stressed, however, that there was no UK link between the two patients and said the virus does not spread easily between people.
The second patient was being treated in the tropical and infectious diseases unit of Royal Liverpool University hospital. The unit’s clinical director, Dr Mike Beadsworth, said staff there were highly trained and experienced in dealing with a variety of infectious diseases.
“All necessary precautions are being taken by specialist staff and there is currently no risk to other staff, patients or visitors,” he said.
“We ask that people continue to use our services as normal and that people only come to our emergency department if their condition is serious and/or an emergency.”
PHE said monkeypox was “usually a mild, self-limiting illness and most people recover within a few weeks. However, severe illness can occur in some individuals.”
It said the virus could be spread by close contact with an infected person, but the risk of transmission to the general population was “very low”.
The first patient to be diagnosed, who was from Nigeria and was staying at a naval base in Cornwall, is being treated at the Royal Free hospital in London. The second patient had just returned to the UK from the west African nation, where each is believed to have contracted the virus, and first went to Blackpool Victoria hospital.
Dr Nick Phin, the deputy director of PHE’s national infection service, said monkeypox was probably still circulating in Nigeria after an outbreak there a year ago.
Besides medical staff, PHE said it was trying to contact passengers who were near the first patient on the flight to the UK. It said people who had no symptoms were not considered to be infectious and anyone who was not contacted did not need to take any action.
“Initial symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion,” PHE said.
“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.”