Two people have been diagnosed with monkeypox in London, the UK Health Safety Agency (UKHSA) has confirmed.
The couple live in the same household and are not related to anyone else who was diagnosed with the disease in England earlier this month.
The viral infection is similar to human smallpox and usually causes mild illness, with most people recovering within weeks.
One of the latest people to test positive is being treated at the Infectious Diseases Expert Unit at St Mary’s Hospital, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust in London.
However, the other person is in isolation and does not require hospital treatment, the UKHSA said.
Health officials said they are currently investigating where and how the latest cases became infected.
They also said people who may have been in close contact with the two were being contacted and given health advice.
Dr Colin Brown, director of clinical and emerging infections at UKHSA, noted that it is important to remember that the infection “does not spread easily between people and requires close personal contact” with a symptomatic person .
“The overall risk to the general public remains very low,” he added.
The case announced earlier this month involved a person who recently traveled from Nigeria, where they are believed to have contracted the infection.
At the time, the person was believed to have been receiving treatment at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust Infectious Diseases Unit in London.
What are the symptoms?
Early symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headache, muscle aches, back pain, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion, according to the UKHSA.
A rash may also develop, which changes and goes through different stages before forming a scab, which later falls off.
According to the NHS, it is mainly spread by wild animals in parts of West or Central Africa and the risk of catching it in the UK is very low.
According to Public Health England, the infection was first discovered in 1958 when outbreaks of a smallpox-like disease occurred in monkeys kept for research.
It was not until 1970 that the first human case was recorded.