Britain’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced two confirmed cases of the uncommon deadly monkeypox virus in North Wales while discussing the pre-Covid tracing and isolation system with MPs on the Committee Health on June 10.
However, he did not say how many patients were affected or whether the virus was spreading alongside coronavirus in the UK.
Public Health Wales later confirmed ‘two cases of imported monkeypox’ had been spotted.
Health officials also did not reveal which country the pair had caught the virus in despite monkeypox primarily being located in Central and West Africa.
Both patients came from the same household in North Wales but no details about their age or sex were given.
They were infected in early May and were already self-quarantining because of Covid travel guidelines. Only one is still being treated in the hospital.
Monkeypox was first discovered in 1958, with the first reported human case in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1970. Human cases were recorded for the first time in the U.S. in 2003 and the UK in September 2018.
Monkeypox is a rare viral disease which causes a blistering skin rash and feverish, flu-like symptoms. It is brought on by a virus developed by monkeys, rats, squirrels and different small mammals.
The virus can enter the body through broken skin or the eyes, nose or mouth. It can pass between humans via droplets in the air, and by touching the skin of an infected individual, or touching objects contaminated by them.
Symptoms usually appear within five and 21 days of infection. These include a fever, headache, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills and fatigue.
The most obvious symptom is a rash, which often appears on the face first before spreading to different parts of the body. The rash then forms skin lesions that scab and fall off.
Monkeypox is usually mild, with most patients recovering inside just a few weeks without remedy. Yet, the illness can be deadly.
Human-to-human transmission of the virus is uncommon, according to a World Health Organization report from 2020, and the longest chain of illnesses appears to have only been six people before it ceased.
The virus’s natural R rate (the number of persons each patient would infect if they lived normally while sick) is two.
This is lower than the original Wuhan variant of Covid and about a third of the R rate of the Indian ‘Delta’ strain.
However, the true rate is likely to be much lower because ‘distinctive symptoms considerably contribute to its early discovery and containment,’ according to the researchers, making patients easy to discover and isolate.
A consultant in health protection at Public Health Wales, Richard Firth claimed that ‘confirmed cases of monkeypox are a rare event in the UK, and the risk to the general public is very low’.
There is no specific therapy for monkeypox, however the smallpox vaccine has been found to be 85 percent effective in preventing the virus.