Gay and bisexual men have been urged to look out for ‘unusual rash’ after four men were diagnosed with monkeypox in the UK, bringing the total number of cases in the latest outbreak to seven.
All four new patients are gay or bisexual men who were infected in London and had no travel links to Africa, health chiefs have confirmed after MailOnline broke the news earlier today.
Two are known to each other but have no connection to any of the previous cases, in a sign the virus is spreading in the community for the first time.
Nurses and doctors are being advised to stay ‘alert’ to patients who present with a new rash.
Monkeypox is often mistaken for more common rash illnesses like chickenpox, measles, scabies, and syphilis, which makes it difficult to diagnose early.
Dr. Susan Hopkins, the chief medical adviser at the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), said: ‘This is rare and unusual.
‘UKHSA is rapidly investigating the source of these infections because the evidence suggests that there may be transmission of the monkeypox virus in the community, spread by close contact.
‘We are particularly urging men who are gay and bisexual to be aware of any unusual rashes or lesions and to contact a sexual health service without delay.’
All seven UK cases have tested positive for the West African strain of the virus, which is believed to be milder than other versions.
Exactly how the new patients acquired the infection ‘remains under urgent investigation’, the UKHSA said.