What is monkeypox? Symptoms of disease as case identified in England

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One person has been diagnosed with monkeypox in England, health bosses have said.

The patient has a recent travel history from Nigeria, where he is believed to have contracted the infection before traveling to the UK.

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The person is now being treated at the NHS Foundation Trust’s infectious diseases unit at Guy’s and St Thomas in London and experts from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) are monitoring the case.

They are also working closely with NHS colleagues to contact people who may have been in close contact with the individual.

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Monkeypox is a contagious disease spreading in tropical Africa (Photo: AFP via Getty Images)

But what is monkeypox and what are the signs and symptoms?

Here’s what you need to know.

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What is monkeypox and how is it transmitted?

Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus.

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Two cases of monkeypox were detected in North Wales in June 2021.

At the time, Public Health Wales (PHW) said the original case was acquired abroad and both cases were identified in two people from the same household.

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Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus (Photo: CDC/Getty Images)

Monkeypox is usually a mild illness that gets better on its own without treatment, but some people can develop more severe symptoms, so patients with monkeypox in the UK are treated in specialist hospitals.

However, there have only been a very small number of cases of monkeypox in the UK and if there is a case, health professionals will try to contact anyone who has been in close contact with the infected person.

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The NHS website said: “If you have not been contacted, please be assured that it is extremely unlikely that you have contracted monkeypox.”

Monkeypox doesn’t spread easily between people, but it’s possible to get it from:

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  • Touching objects such as clothing, bed linen, or towels used by an infected person
  • Touching monkeypox stains or scabs
  • a person with a monkeypox rash who coughs or sneezes around you

What are the symptoms of monkeypox?

  • high temperature
  • headache
  • Muscle cramp
  • back pain
  • swollen glands
  • chills
  • exhaustion

A rash usually sets in one to five days after the first symptoms appear. The spots often start on the face before spreading to other parts of the body.

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Then, as the disease progresses, the rash changes from raised red bumps to fluid-filled patches, with the patches eventually forming crusts that later fall off.

How is monkeypox diagnosed and treated?

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The NHS explains that “it is difficult to determine if the infection is monkeypox as it can often be confused with other infections such as chickenpox.”

The virus is diagnosed after a specialist examination and the treatment of monkeypox is aimed at relieving the symptoms and takes place in specialized hospitals.

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