First case of monkeypox recorded in the UK as Royal Free treats Nigerian patient

Doctors have recorded the first ever case of monkeypox in the UK, a rare disease which can be fatal.

A Nigerian national is being treated at the Royal Free Hospital in London after being diagnosed with the rare viral infection while staying at a naval base in Cornwall.

The patient, who has not been identified, is believed to have contracted the disease in Nigeria before travelling to the UK.

Public Health England has sought to reassure Britons that monkeypox does not spread easily and most patients recover within a few weeks with no lasting effects.

It can cause severe illness in some people, with symptoms including fever, headache, aching muscles, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion.

A rash can also develop, which usually starts on the face and spreads forming a scab which falls off.

PHE is working with the NHS to identify people on the same flight as the patient and contact them. There is no confirmation about whether the patient is a member of the military.

PHE said in a statement: "People without symptoms are not considered infectious but, as a precaution, those who have been in close proximity are being contacted to ensure that if they do become unwell they can be treated quickly."

Dr Michael Jacobs, clinical director of infection at the Royal Free Hospital, said: "It is a rare disease caused by monkeypox virus, and has been reported mainly in central and west African countries.

"It does not spread easily between people and the risk of transmission to the wider public is very low. We are using strict isolation procedures in hospital to protect our staff and patients."

Dr Nick Phin, deputy director of the National Infection Service at PHE said "well established and robust infection control procedures" were being followed.

The World Health Organisation says monkeypox occurs primarily in west and central Africa, near tropical rainforests, and is mostly passed to humans from rodents and primates.

There was an outbreak in Nigeria in 2017, with 172 suspected and 61 confirmed cases between September and December. WHO reported one death.

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