MONKEYPOX has landed in the UK for only the third time in history.
Matt Hancock said it was the latest “outbreak” he was “dealing with”.
Public health officials are managing two cases in Wales who live in the same household.
The patients – whose age and gender haven’t been revealed – were admitted to a hospital in England, where one remains.
The cases would be only the fifth and sixth ever recorded in the UK, with the virus historically seen in people who have travelled from abroad.
Health chiefs did not say if and where the new cases had visited, but the virus is mainly found in Central and West Africa.
In the past, the virus has been brought in by someone who has been to Nigeria.
What are the symptoms of monkeypox to look out for?
People who catch monkeypox usually don’t show symptoms for at least five days.
But it could be up to 13 or even 21 days before the signs are obvious.
This period is called the “incubation period”.
The infection causes two periods of illness. In the first phase, up to five days, patients can suffer:
- A high temperature – 38C or above.
- A headache
- Muscle aches
- Swollen glands
Then the skin starts to erupt within one to three days of the fever, causing a rash and scabbing.
A monkeypox rash usually begins one to five days after the first symptoms appear, the NHS says.
Spots often start on the face before spreading to other parts of the body.
The rash affects the face mostly (95 per cent of cases) and hands (75 per cent), according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
During the illness the rash changes from raised red bumps, to spots filled with fluid.
The spots eventually erupt and form scabs which later fall off.
You can catch monkeypox by touching the spots or scabs of someone infected, as well as their clothing or bedding.
It can also be passed on from sneezing and coughing.
However, the likelihood of the virus transmitting between humans is considered low.
Usually someone gets the virus from direct contact with the blood or bodily fluids of an infected animal – which has never happened in the UK.
How serious is monkeypox?
Monkeypox usually lasts from two to four weeks and can get better without treatment.
Severe cases occur more commonly among children.
Complications of monkeypox can arise – some deadly.
They include secondary infections such as sepsis, encephalitis, and infection of the cornea leading to vision loss.
As many as one in 10 persons who contract the disease die, according to the WHO, mostly in younger people.
In the UK, if someone is found to have monkeypox they need to be treated in a specialist hospital, such as the Royal Free Hospital's specialised infectious disease unit.
No one is known to have died of the disease in the UK.
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