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expert reaction to reported cases of monkeypox

Expert reaction to the first reported case of monkeypox in the UK as confirmed by Public Health England.


Prof Jimmy Whitworth, Professor of International Public Health, Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said:

“It is surprising to see two, apparently unrelated, cases of monkeypox reported in the UK within the space of a week.  This disease has not been reported before in the UK, both cases are recent travellers from Nigeria, so these are imported cases.

“An upsurge in cases of monkeypox has been reported from Nigeria in the past 12 months, which probably explains why we are seeing these occasional cases in the UK now.

“The disease is usually mild, sometimes resembling chickenpox, although it can be severe and has been reported to cause deaths in west Africa.  The two cases are now being cared for in specialist infectious disease units.

“Monkeypox is usually caught from small rodents and squirrels in forested areas of west Africa and does not spread easily from person to people.  In an outbreak in the USA related to imported pets from west Africa, all the cases caught the infection from their pets and there was no person to person spread.  However, it is a sensible precaution that those people who may have come into contact with these two recent cases are being traced and followed up.”


Declared interests

Prof Jimmy Whitworth: “My wife, Dilys Morgan, works on emerging infections at PHE.”

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