Four additional cases smallpox monkeys were found in the UK, bringing the total nationwide to seven, health officials said.
The UK Health Agency has reported that new cases have been detected in London and northeast of Englandhave no known links to previous infections as they warn that there is evidence of transmission of the disease in society.
Urgent investigations are underway to establish links between the last four cases, which are gay or bisexual and appear to have been infected in London, the UKHSA reported.
A number of patients receive medical care in the infectious disease wards at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Newcastle upon Tyne and at the Royal Free Hospital and in London.
None of the new cases have traveled to a country where monkeypox, a virus that kills up to 10 percent of the people it infects, is endemic, UKHSA reports.
Between May 6 and 15, seven cases were identified, the first of which recently returned from Nigeria, where they are believed to have become infected.
“It’s rare and unusual,” said Dr. Susan Hopkins, UKHSA’s chief medical adviser. “Evidence suggests that monkeypox virus may be transmitted in a community that spreads through close contact.
“We especially urge gay and bisexual men to be aware of any unusual rashes or lesions and to contact the sexual health service immediately.”
Smallpox is not easily transmitted between humans, but can be transmitted when someone is in close contact with an infected person.
People without symptoms are not considered infectious, but those who have been in close proximity to the victims are contacted to ensure that if they become ill, they can be treated quickly, UKHSA said. Contacts of two of the four new cases have so far been identified by the agency.