Monkeypox 'outbreak' detected in Wales as two admitted to hospital

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Image of someone in Liberia with monkeypox from 1971. (AP)
Image of someone in Liberia with monkeypox from 1971. (AP)

The UK is currently suffering an outbreak of monkeypox after two cases were detected in Wales, the health secretary has revealed.

Matt Hancock revealed the information about the outbreak while giving evidence to a committee of MPs about the government's handling of the COVID pandemic.

He said: "As health secretary, you’re dealing with these sorts of outbreaks all of the time. I’m currently dealing with a monkeypox outbreak and cases of drug resistant TB [tuberculosis], and that is absolutely standard.

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And the lack of that capability at the start meant the options that we had were fewer."

Monkeypox does not travel easily from human to human so the threat to the general public is thought to be low.

The first case of monkeypox reportedly came from someone catching it abroad, who then passed the illness onto someone in their household.

Both have been admitted to hospital, where one remains.

This is not the first time the virus has been detected in the UK.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock giving evidence to the Science and Technology Committee and Health and Social Care Committee on Thursday. (PA)
Health secretary Matt Hancock giving evidence to the Science and Technology Committee and Health and Social Care Committee on Thursday. (PA)

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In December 2019, a person in England was diagnosed with the infection.

The patient is believed to have contracted the infection while visiting Nigeria.

Public Health England also reported three cases of monkeypox in the UK in September 2018.

The first two were in people who had travelled from Africa and the third was a healthcare worker who cared for one patient. The worker became infected before monkeypox was suspected.

What is monkeypox?

According to the World Health Organization monkeypox is similar, but less severe, to smallpox – a lethal disease that was eradicated in 1980.

Outbreaks of monkeypox are most common in Africa.

In most cases, monkeypox will resolve on its own and have no long-term effects on a person’s health.

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

People can suffer a rash, which often begins on the face before spreading to other parts of the body.

The rash changes from raised red bumps to spots filled with fluid. The spots eventually form scabs which later fall off.

It does not transmit easily between humans and is more commonly caught from animals.

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