Second monkeypox strain found in the UK

Individual hospitalised with the virus had recently travelled to west Africa, say public health officials

A second monkeypox strain has been identified in the UK, linked with travel to west Africa, public health officials have said.

According to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), an individual who had recently travelled to west Africa has been admitted to the high consequence infectious diseases (HCID) unit at the Royal Liverpool University hospital in Merseyside with the strain.

Contact tracing is being conducted to establish if there are any further linked cases. Monkeypox is endemic in animals in parts of west Africa and has caused outbreaks in humans there.

“Preliminary genomic sequencing conducted by UKHSA indicates that this case does not have the current outbreak strain circulating in the UK,” the agency said.

It has not yet been revealed whether the case involves a new strain of monkeypox, or one that has previously been identified, albeit outside the current outbreak.

“UKHSA and the NHS have well-established and robust infection control procedures for dealing with cases of imported infectious disease and these will be strictly followed. The risk to the general public is very low,” said Dr Sophia Maki, incident director at the UKHSA.

“We remind everyone who is planning to travel to west and central Africa to be alert for the symptoms of monkeypox and to call 111 if you have symptoms on your return.”

The case comes as the total number of confirmed and probable cases of monkeypox in the UK reached 3,413 on Tuesday, the majority of which have been in gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men.

While a smallpox vaccine is available that can help to prevent monkeypox, shortages of the jab have led to public health officials in the UK giving smaller doses of the vaccine to those at risk of exposure.

The jabs are currently only given to people after exposure to the virus if they are at risk of severe illness, such as people with immunosuppression, or pregnant women, with a full dose given in these cases.

A further 100,000 doses of the vaccine are due to arrive in the UK later this month.


Nicola Davis Science correspondent

The GuardianTramp

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