THE UK is “dealing with” an outbreak of monkeypox, Matt Hancock has revealed.
The Health Secretary did not give any details of where cases were, or how many.
But The Sun has been told there are two cases in North Wales.
The first case caught the virus abroad before passing it onto someone in the same house.
They were admitted to a hospital in England, where one remains.
Both are being monitored by Public Health Wales and Public Health England.
The cases would be only the fifth and sixth cases ever recorded in the UK.
Richard Firth, Consultant in Health Protection at Public Health Wales, said: "Confirmed cases of monkeypox are a rare event in the UK, and the risk to the general public is very low.
“We have worked with multi agency colleagues, following tried and tested protocols and procedures, and identified all close contacts. Actions have been put in place to minimise the likelihood of further infection.
“Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by the monkeypox virus and has been reported mainly in central and West African countries.
Mr Hancock was speaking at the Health and Social Select Committee today about his response to the Covid pandemic.
He said: “The tracing and isolation system was essentially built for very important but very small outbreaks.
“As Health Secretary, you’re dealing with outbreaks all the time. I'm currently dealing with a monkeypox outbreak and cases of drug-resistant TB [tuberculosis]. That is absolutely standard.”
The outbreak of resistant TB – uncommon in the UK – is understood to be in England.
Monkeypox has been seen just four times in the past, with cases dating back to 2018 and always in travellers from other countries.
However an NHS nurse once caught the virus in 2018 while changing the bedsheets of a patient in hospital, blaming "pathetically small" protective gloves.
The most recent case was seen in South West England in December 2019 in someone who had visited Nigeria.
What are the symptoms of monkeypox
Initial symptoms include:
- muscle aches
- swollen lymph nodes
A painful rash and open sores can then develop, usually starting on the face.
If the rash spreads to the eyes it can cause blindness.
Symptoms generally last from 14 to 21 days, with severe cases relating to age, extent of virus exposure, the patient's health and the severity of complications.
What is monkeypox?
Monkeypox is a virus that passes to humans from wild animals – called a zoonotic disease.
Cases primarily are diagnosed in tropical rainforest areas of Central and West Africa, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
But even in the countries affected, there have been few cases.
It typically causes a fever, rash and swollen lymph nodes.
It’s spread from person to person by touching clothing or bedding of an infected person or their spots or scabs.
You can also catch monkeypox if someone with it sneezes or coughs near you, the NHS says
But the risk of catching it is considered low because it doesn't easily spread between people.
The largest outbreak known was six people, the WHO says.
Monkeypox, in most cases, is a mild condition which will resolve on its own within a few weeks and have no long-term effects.
Can monkeypox kill?
According to WHO, the monkeypox virus is similar to human smallpox.
Although monkeypox is much milder than smallpox, it can be fatal.
It has a mortality rate of between one and 10 per cent, with most deaths occurring in younger age groups.
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