What is monkeypox and what are the symptoms to look out for?

Monkeypox has been identified in the UK (Picture: Jepayona Delita/Future Publishing via Getty Images)

A rare case of monkeypox has been identified in the UK, health chiefs have confirmed.

Officials are now racing to trace people who could have come into contact with the patient.

But what is monkeypox, and what are the key symptoms that you need to look out for?

Here is everything you need to know.

What is monkeypox?

St Thomas' hospital

The patient is being treated at a London hospital while contact tracing efforts continue (Picture: Hesther Ng/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

A rare infection, monkeypox is described as zoonotic – meaning it is normally seen in animals.

However, the disease can spread to humans from an infected animal if you’re bitten or you touch its blood, body fluids, spots, blisters, or scabs.

The infection is a member of the same family of viruses as smallpox, although it is much less severe.

It’s not common for monkeypox to spread from person to person. But, according to the NHS, it can be spread through:

  • Touching clothing, bedding, or towels used by someone with the monkeypox rash
  • Touching monkeypox skin blisters or scabs
  • Coughs or sneezes

What are monkeypox symptoms?

Smallpox on adult and child's hands

Monkeypox symptoms include fluid-filled blisters (Picture: Getty)

According to the NHS, a rash will usually appear between one to five days after infection – generally beginning on the face before spreading.

The rash is sometimes confused with chickenpox.

It starts as raised spots, which turn into small blisters filled with fluid. These blisters eventually form scabs that later fall off.

Between one and 21 days after infection, you may experience the following symptoms:

  • High temperature
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Backache
  • Swollen glands
  • Shivering
  • Exhaustion

All in all, symptoms can last around two to four weeks.

Monkeypox blisters

Monkeypox is passed on by infected animals to humans (Picture: Getty)

How is monkeypox treated?

Treatment takes place in a specialist hospital to prevent the spread of monkeypox.

There is no single cure for monkeypox, so treatment is largely focused on relieving symptoms: lowering your temperature, easing pain, and taking antibiotics to help fight the infection.

Most people with the infection will make a full recovery within two to four weeks.

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