LONDON, United Kingdom — Britain has detected 11 more cases of monkeypox in England, bringing the total number confirmed in England to 20 since May 6, said a report by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) on Friday.
Noting that he updated Group of Seven health ministers on the information, Health Secretary Sajid Javid tweeted Friday that most cases are mild. “I can confirm we have procured further doses of vaccines that are effective against Monkeypox,” he added.
Monkeypox is usually a mild self-limiting illness, spread by very close contact with someone with monkeypox and most people recover within a few weeks, the UKHSA said, adding that a notable proportion of early cases detected have been in gay and bisexual men.
“We expect this increase to continue in the coming days and for more cases to be identified in the wider community. Alongside this we are receiving reports of further cases being identified in other countries globally,” said Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser at the UKHSA.
Nevertheless, the agency said that while the infection can be passed on through close contact or contact with clothing or linens used by a person who has monkeypox, the virus does not usually spread easily between people and the risk to the UK population remains low.
An investigation into the source of these infections was ongoing.
As early as May 7, the UKHSA said it can confirm that an individual has been diagnosed with monkeypox in England, and that the patient has a recent travel history from Nigeria, which is where they are believed to have contracted the infection, before traveling to the UK.
Initial symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion. A rash can develop, often beginning on the face, then spreading to other parts of the body including the genitals, according to the agency.
The World Health Organization (WHO) issued an alert on Wednesday night, warning that more cases of the monkeypox virus could be reported in Britain.
“Based on currently available information, infection seems to have been locally acquired in the United Kingdom. The extent of local transmission is unclear at this stage and there is the possibility of identification of further cases,” the WHO said then.
While monkeypox primarily occurs in Central and West Africa, often in proximity to tropical rainforests and has been increasingly appearing in urban areas, multiple cases of monkeypox were identified in several non-endemic countries in May, according to the WHO.
Vaccines used during the smallpox eradication program provided protection against monkeypox, and newer vaccines have been developed, of which one has been approved for the prevention of monkeypox, the WHO said.