Third monkeypox case hits the UK

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A medical professional has become the third person in the UK to be struck down with the deadly monkeypox virus.

Public Health England revealed the unidentified medic had treated the second patient at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.

However, officials today said the new case had come into contact with the patient before they were confirmed to have monkeypox.

The medical professional is now being treated by doctors in the specialist unit at the Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle.

Dr Nick Phin, deputy director, of the National Infection Service at PHE, said: ‘This healthcare worker cared for the patient before a diagnosis of monkeypox was made. 

‘We have been actively monitoring contacts for 21 days after exposure to detect anyone presenting with an illness so that they can be assessed quickly. 

‘It is therefore not wholly unexpected that a case has been identified.

‘This person has been isolated and we are taking a highly precautionary approach to ensure that all contacts are traced.’ 

PHE today said it was following up with close contacts of the new patient to provide advice and monitor their health. 

The Government agency is also seeking to make contact with anyone who made contact with the individual in the 24 hours before they noticed a rash.

The viral disease was recorded for the first time in the UK on Friday, September 7 in a Nigerian national staying at a naval base in Cornwall.

The patient was transferred to the expert infectious disease unit at the Royal Free Hospital in London on Saturday morning.

A second person was then confirmed to have been struck down with the virus on Tuesday, September 11. 

The unidentified patient first went to Blackpool Victoria Hospital with symptoms, before they tested positive for monkeypox. They were then sent for treatment at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital, a specialist centre.

Further information on the state of the first two patients has not yet been released.

Officials believe both the first two patients caught the virus, often spread through handling monkeys and proves fatal in 10 per cent of cases, in Nigeria before flying to England. 

Nigeria was hit hard by a virulent outbreak of monkeypox last September, with 89 people infected and six deaths recorded in March.

The country had not previously reported a case of the disease since 1978.

The most recent government figures, released last year, estimate there are 190,000 people that were born in Nigeria who currently live in the UK. 

Monkeypox is a rare viral infection that was first discovered in monkeys in 1958. While similar to smallpox, it is not as deadly.

The first case in a human was discovered in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1970, and since cases have been reported in central and west African countries.  

Initial symptoms include fever, headache and chills. As the illness develops large welts can appear over the face and body.

Monkeypox resides in wild animals but humans can catch it through direct contact with animals, such as handling monkeys, or eating inadequately cooked meat.

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. 

Most people who contract the disease recover within a few weeks, but in up to 10 per cent of cases it is fatal.

It comes after an eminent virologist earlier this month told MailOnline monkeypox infects 10 per cent of people who come into contact with sufferers.

Professor Earl Brown, at the University of Ottawa, said hospital staff treating the patient at are particularly at risk of catching the deadly virus.

Thirty-seven people were confirmed to have been struck down by monkeypox in an outbreak in the US in 2003.

It was the first time the disease, which had been confirmed in five states, had been reported in humans outside of Africa.

Monkeypox was two years ago named as one of 37 viruses that pose a potential threat to populations around the world.

University of Edinburgh listed the virus among MERS and two strains of Ebola, a haemorrhagic fever responsible for a brutal pandemic in 2014. 

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