(Bloomberg) -- Four more cases of monkeypox have been identified in Britain, bringing the total to seven, according to the UK Health Security Agency.
Health authorities are working to find links between the latest four cases, three of which are in London. The four all identify as gay or bisexual, which has prompted the health body to warn these groups to be alert to symptoms.
“UKHSA is rapidly investigating the source of these infections because the evidence suggests that there may be transmission of the monkeypox virus in the community, spread by close contact,” said Susan Hopkins, the agency’s chief medical adviser. “We are particularly urging men who are gay and bisexual to be aware of any unusual rashes or lesions and to contact a sexual health service without delay.”
What is monkeypox?
Monkeypox is a rare usually mild infection, typically caught from infected wild animals in parts of Africa. The disease is a relative of smallpox, causing a rash that often begins on the face, according to the NHS website.
How can you catch it?
Monkeypox can be caught from a bite by an infected animal, or by touching its blood, body fluids or fur. It’s thought to be spread by rodents, such as rats, mice and squirrels. It’s also possible to catch the disease by eating meat from an infected animal that has not been cooked properly.
It’s very unusual to catch monkeypox from a human, because it doesn’t spread easily between people. But it is possible to spread the disease through touching clothing, bedding or towels used by someone with the rash. The disease can also be transmitted by touching monkeypox skin blisters or scabs, or getting too close to coughs and sneezes from an infected person.
What are the symptoms?
If you get infected with monkeypox, it usually takes between five to 21 days for the first symptoms to appear. These include a high temperature, a headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen glands, shivering and exhaustion.
A rash typically appears one to five days after experiencing these symptoms. The rash is sometimes confused with chickenpox, because it starts as raised spots which turn into small scabs filled with fluid.
The symptoms usually clear up within two to four weeks and the scab falls off.
Is monkeypox lethal?
Studies in central Africa, where people have less access to quality health care, show the disease killed as many as a tenth of infected people, according to the World Health Organization. However, most patients recover within a few weeks.
How is the disease treated?
There’s currently no specific treatment for monkeypox. Patients will usually need to stay in a specialist hospital so the infection doesn’t spread and general symptoms can be treated.
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