At least one person in England has been diagnosed with a rare viral infection known as monkeypox, Public Health England (PHE) confirmed this week.
The patient, who was not identified, is from southwest England but likely contracted the disease while visiting Nigeria, officials said in a news release on Wednesday. He or she is now being treated at St. Thomas’ Hospital Trust in London.
Monkeypox is a rare disease that does not spread easily between people. It’s considered mild and typically occurs in remote parts of central and west Africa, according to the World Health Organization. The virus lives in animals but can be transmitted to humans. In 2017, Nigeria experienced its first outbreak of the viral illness since 1978, according to WHO.
England reported three monkeypox cases in September 2018, marking the first-ever cases of monkeypox in Britain.
Though most people who contract monkeypox recover within a few weeks, severe and sometimes fatal cases can occur. Symptoms often include fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills, and exhaustion, according to PHE, which noted a rash can also develop with monkeypox.
In the news release, PHE said its experts are “working closely with NHS colleagues to implement rapid infection control procedures, including contacting people who might have been in close contact with the individual to provide information and health advice.” Passengers who traveled on the same flight as the infected person may be contacted by health officials.
“Monkeypox does not spread easily between people and the overall risk to the general public is very low. We are following up with those who have had close contact with the patient to offer advice and to monitor them as necessary,” said Dr. Meera Chand, consultant microbiologist at Public Health England, in a statement.
“PHE 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 to minimize the risk of transmission,” added Chand.
Fox News’ Alexandria Hein contributed to this report.