Officials from Public Health England (PHE) have confirmed yesterday (26th September 2018) that a third person in UK has been diagnosed with monkey pox. While the first two patients had most likely picked up the infection from Nigeria, this third infection has occurred in a healthcare worker who was treating one of the first two infected patients at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.
The first two cases of this infection were seen in a resident of Nigeria who had probably brought the infection from there before travelling to UK says the PHE. The second patients picked up the infection from Nigeria after a visit there. Dr. Nick Phin, deputy director of PHE’s National Infection Service, said in a statement on September 11, “We know that in September 2017 Nigeria experienced a large sustained outbreak of monkey pox and since then sporadic cases have continued to be reported. It is likely that monkey pox continues to circulate in Nigeria and could, therefore, affect travellers who are returning from this part of the world.” The PHE confirms that this third infection is a healthcare worker who was involved in caring for the second patient before that person was diagnosed with monkey pox. “This person has been isolated and we are taking a highly precautionary approach to ensure that all contacts are traced,” Phin said in the PHE’s recent statement.
The MonkeyPox virus is a cousin to smallpox, and although not as deadly, produces fever, rashes, and sometimes can be lethal - killing 1 in 10 of its victims. And there is no cure.
Phin said, “This healthcare worker cared for the patient before a diagnosis of monkeypox was made. We have been actively monitoring contacts for 21 days after exposure to detect anyone presenting with an illness so that they can be assessed quickly. It is therefore not wholly unexpected that a case has been identified. This person has been isolated and we are taking a highly precautionary approach to ensure that all contacts are traced.”
Monkey pox is a relatively uncommon viral infection that usually does not spread from human to human. It causes flu like illness which can last for a few weeks and usually clears up on its own.
The infection usually passes from animals to humans. The infection is seen commonly in parts of central and West Africa says the World Health Organization (WHO). Outside of Africa, an outbreak of monkey pox had been seen in 2003 in the United States with 37 infected cases. The infection had come from a shipment of animals from Ghana. These three cases of monkey pox now seen in UK are the first of its kind in UK.
Symptoms of this infection include headache, fever, back ache, muscle pain, swelling of the lymph nodes, fatigue, and rash over the face that spreads to the other parts of the body. The WHO says that this rash is typically small fluid-filled blister like lesion at the start and eventually a crust forms over it. At present there are no vaccines to prevent this infection and there are no specific treatments against this infection.
Dr. Michael Jacobs, clinical director of infection at the Royal Free Hospital, said in a PHE statement, “Monkeypox is, in most cases, a mild condition which will resolve on its own and have no long-term effects on a person’s health. Most people recover within several weeks.” It can get serious in children and in some individuals. Deaths due to this infection may be seen in 1 to 10 percent of the cases says the WHO.
According to the PHE there is no threat from the three cases in the UK and there is no risk of spread or case fatality at present. “It is important to emphasise that monkeypox does not spread easily between people and the overall risk to the general public is very low,” Phin said in a PHE statement. The third patient is being treated at the Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle in a specialist unit.