Baku, May 19, AZERTAC
Seven cases of monkeypox have been confirmed in London and northeastern England, only one of which was linked to travel outside of the country, health officials said.
According to Live Science, current evidence hints that the rare disease may now be spreading in the local community, according to the U.K. Health Security Agency (UKHSA).
This viral spread, if it is occurring, could potentially extend beyond the U.K. and affect people in other countries, U.S. health officials warned on Tuesday (May 17), according to STAT. This concern was validated on Wednesday, when two more European countries announced suspected and confirmed cases of the disease, STAT reported on May 18.
These countries include Spain, where eight potential cases are under investigation, and Portugal, where five cases have been confirmed and more than a dozen probable cases have been identified.
Monkeypox is a rare infection caused by a poxvirus that belongs to the same family and genus as the variola virus, which causes smallpox, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The infection initially causes symptoms of fever, headache, muscle aches, exhaustion and swollen lymph nodes; rashes then appear on the face and spread over the body, eventually giving rise to patches of discoloration, blisters, scabs and raised bumps on the skin.
In Africa, where the disease is endemic, the infection is fatal in an estimated 10% of cases, but in the majority of cases, the illness remains mild and resolves in about two to four weeks.
Historically, cases of monkeypox outside of Africa have been linked to international travel or animal imports, according to the CDC. (African rodents and non-human primates can carry the virus.) However, the source of the six non-travel-related infections in the U.K. remains a mystery, and it's unknown whether the newfound cases in Spain and Portugal are related to the U.K. infections, according to STAT.
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