There's no cure for the Africa-linked infection, which can cause severe disease in some people, British medics say
A rare case of monkeypox has been confirmed in England, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) announced on Saturday.
The agency emphasized that monkeypox is a rare viral infection that doesn't spread easily between people. For most, it is a mild disease that disappears within a few weeks but some can develop severe illness.
The patient who has been diagnosed with monkeypox had recently arrived in the UK from Nigeria, and is being treated at the infectious disease isolation unit of Guy's and St. Thomas' Hospital in Central London.
"As a precautionary measure, UKHSA experts are working closely with NHS colleagues and will be contacting people who might have been in close contact with the individual to provide information and health advice," the UKHSA said.
The agency considers the overall risk to the general public "very low."
Monkeypox is similar to human smallpox, which was eradicated in 1980, and can be confused with chickenpox. Its initial symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion. A rash often begins on the face and then spreads to other parts of the body.
According to the UK National Health Service (NHS), monkeypox can be caught from infected wild animals in parts of West and Central Africa.
"It's thought to be spread by rodents, such as rats, mice and squirrels," the NHS says.
Only a few people have been diagnosed with monkeypox in the UK and all of them traveled to West Africa or were close contacts of someone who had traveled there.
A 2003 monkeypox outbreak in the United States was traced to a pet store where small mammals from Ghana were sold.
Although monkeypox is generally milder than smallpox, the death rate among infected people in Africa can be as high as 10%, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
There is currently no cure for the virus, although the smallpox vaccine is believed to prevent infection, according to the NHS and CDC.