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More cases of monkeypox are being detected in Britain “daily”, a senior doctor has warned, amid reports that a child has been admitted to intensive care with the disease.

Dr Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), said an update on confirmed cases would be released on Monday as efforts continue to contain the outbreak using the contact tracing, testing and vaccination.

The number of confirmed cases in the UK rose to 20 on Friday and are expected to rise significantly in the coming weeks as more people are traced and others come forward for testing. Public health officials are still working to identify the source of the outbreak, as many patients have no known links to other cases.

Monkeypox is a mild illness in most people and resolves without treatment in two to four weeks. But it can be more dangerous in vulnerable people, such as those with weakened immune systems, pregnant women and young children.

According to the Sunday Telegraph, the UK cases include a child who is being treated in intensive care at a London hospital. The UKHSA said it had neither confirmed nor discussed patient-level information.

The agency confirmed the first case of monkeypox on May 7, three days after a passenger with symptoms returned to London from Nigeria, a country that has had a high number of cases since 2017. Sexual Health Clinics have since reported a surge of cases in men. having sex with men, some of whom developed symptoms weeks earlier.

More than 180 confirmed or suspected cases are being investigated in at least 14 countries. More than half are in Spain and Portugal.

“We are detecting more cases every day and I want to thank everyone who comes forward for testing at sexual health clinics, GPs and emergency services,” Dr Hopkins told BBC One’s Sunday Morning. . When asked if the virus was spreading in the community in the UK, she replied: “Absolutely. We are finding cases that have no identified contact with an individual from West Africa, which we have seen previously in that country.

Monkeypox was first discovered in monkeys used for research in 1958, but the natural reservoir for the disease is believed to be rodents. The virus is endemic in parts of West and Central Africa. Until this year, only seven cases had been detected in the UK, in 2018, 2019 and 2021, and all were linked to travel to Nigeria.

“Community transmission is largely centered in urban areas and we see it primarily among individuals who identify as gay or bisexual, or other men who have sex with men,” Hopkins said. When asked why the cases mainly belong to this group, she replied: “It’s because of the frequent close contact they may have.”

“We recommend anyone who regularly changes sexual partners or is in close contact with people they don’t know to come forward if they develop a rash,” she added.

Monkeypox is not a highly contagious disease and most cases in rural Africa are thought to occur when people come into contact with infected animals. But the disease can spread from person to person through close contact with ulcers and blisters, which often appear around the mouth and genitals; respiratory droplets and contaminated materials such as bedding, towels and kitchen utensils.

The incubation period can last up to 21 days, meaning symptoms can take three weeks to appear after exposure to the virus, but in the latest outbreak many patients developed a rash within days. Patients may develop a fever before other symptoms appear.

To help contain the spread of the virus, high-risk contacts of confirmed cases, including some healthcare workers, have been injected with a smallpox vaccine, Imvanex, which can protect against monkeypox.

“We use it in people who we think are at high risk of developing symptoms and use it early, especially within four or five days of developing symptoms,” Hopkins said.

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