The U.K. health authorities have confirmed a case of monkeypox, a rare viral infection. It was detected in a person with a recent travel history to Nigeria where they are believed to have caught it. The patient is being treated in a specialist isolation unit in London.
What is this virus?
The monkeypox virus is an orthopoxvirus, which is a genus of viruses that also includes the variola virus, which causes smallpox. Monkeypox is a zoonosis, a disease that is transmitted from infected animals to humans.
According to the WHO, cases occur close to tropical rainforests inhabited by animals that carry the virus. Monkeypox virus infection has been detected in squirrels, Gambian poached rats, dormice, and some species of monkeys.
Human-to-human transmission of the virus is, however, limited. It can be through contact with bodily fluids, lesions on the skin, the respiratory tract or through the eyes, nose or mouth or by virus-contaminated objects, such as bedding and clothing.