What is `monkeypox’? Why should people be worried?

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London: British authorities have detected the first case of monkeypox after a man with a travel history to Nigeria was found infected by this rare virus.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said monkeypox is a rare viral infection that does not spread easily between people and is usually a mild “self-limiting illness” and most people recovers within a few weeks. However, severe illness can occur in some cases.

“It is important to emphasize that monkeypox does not spread easily between people and the overall risk to the general public is very low,” Dr. Colin Brown, Director of Clinical and Emerging Infections at the UKHSA, said.

“We are working with NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSEI) to contact the individuals who have had close contact with the case before confirmation of their infection, to assess them as necessary and provide advice. UKHSA and the NHS have well-established and robust infection control procedures for dealing with cases of imported infectious disease and these will be strictly followed,” he said.

The patient is being treated in a specialist isolation unit at St Thomas Hospital by expert clinical staff with strict infection prevention procedures, added Dr. Nicholas Price, Consultant in Infectious Diseases at Guy’s and St. Thomas’ Hospital.

As a precautionary measure, UKHSA experts said they are working closely with England’s state-funded National Health Service (NHS) and will be contacting people who might have been in close contact with the individual to provide information and health advice.

This includes contacting several passengers who traveled in close proximity to the patient on the same flight to the UK.

Initial symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills, and exhaustion. 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.

It can be spread when someone is in close contact with an infected person. The virus can enter the body through broken skin, the respiratory tract, or through the eyes, nose, or mouth.

The NHS said the infection could be caught from infected wild animals in parts of the west and central Africa and was believed to be spread by rodents.

The UKHSA said people without symptoms are not considered infectious but, as a precaution, those who have been nearby the infected passenger are being contacted to ensure that if they do become unwell they can be treated quickly.

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