Health authorities have confirmed the second ever case of monkeypox in the U.K. The patient was diagnosed just days after the first case of the disease was announced on Friday.
Monkeypox is a rare viral infection similar to human smallpox, which has been eradicated in the 1980s. Monkeypox is milder than smallpox but it can also be fatal. The monkeypox virus, or MPVX, lives in animals but it can be transmitted to humans.
Both of the patients are believed to have travelled to Nigeria, where they likely contracted the infection, but the cases are thought to be unrelated, according to a report by Independent. The disease typically occurs in remote parts of central and west Africa. Nigeria experienced its first outbreak of the disease in 2017 since 1978.
"We know that in September 2017 Nigeria experienced a large sustained outbreak of monkeypox and since then sporadic cases have continued to be reported," said Nick Phin, Public Health England's National Infection Service deputy director.
"It is likely that monkeypox continues to circulate in Nigeria and could therefore affect travellers who are returning from this part of the world, however, it is very unusual to see two cases in such a relatively short space of time."
The PHE said that it is now working hard to contact people who may have come into contact with the patient so they can be provided health advice. More than 50 people have also been warned over the weekend of potential exposure after the first case of the disease was confirmed.
Initial symptoms of the disease include muscle aches, headache, fever, backache, swollen lymph nodes, exhaustion, and chills. A rash may also develop, which usually begins on the face and then spreads to other parts of the body. The rash changes, going through different stages, before it finally forms a scab that later falls off.
"Monkeypox is usually a self-limited disease with the symptoms lasting from 14 to 21 days. Severe cases occur more commonly among children and are related to the extent of virus exposure, patient health status and severity of complications," the World Health Organization said.
The PHE said that people who have no symptoms are not considered infectious. Those who were not contacted do not also have to take any action.
No specific treatment or vaccine is currently available for monkeypox. The WHO, however, said that prior smallpox vaccination is effective in preventing infection.