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British health officials confirm human case of monkeypox

By Don Jacobson
British health officials confirm human case of monkeypox
The patient is believed to have picked up the virus during a trip to Nigeria, where other cases have originated. File Photo by Falco/Pixabay/UPI

Dec. 4 (UPI) -- British health officials on Wednesday confirmed a case of monkeypox, a rare and communicable viral infection for which there is no known cure.

Public Health England said the unidentified patient was believed to have been infected while visiting Nigeria. The patient has been transferred to a London hospital and is "receiving appropriate care," PHE said.

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The agency stressed that monkeypox does not spread easily between people and the risk to the general public in Britain is "very low." Its effects are usually mild, with symptoms including fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion. Those usually disappear within a few weeks.

In rare cases, however, monkeypox -- which is closely related to the smallpox virus -- can be deadly. Health officials said they're working to find persons the patient may have come into close contact with, including passengers who traveled on the same flight from Nigeria to Britain.

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Although there is no treatment or cure for monkeypox, the smallpox vaccine has been somewhat effective against the virus due to the diseases' similarity.

The first three British cases of monkeypox were recorded in September 2018. One patient was a Nigerian national living at at a naval base in Cornwall. The second was a separate case, but had also been to Nigeria. The third was a British healthcare worker.

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At least one case of monkeypox was also recorded in Singapore this year, which officials believe might be related to the outbreak in Nigeria. An outbreak arrived in the United States in 2003, sickening 71 people.

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