Another 16 monkeypox cases have been spotted among Britons, pushing the UK total above 100.
Wales and Northern Ireland yesterday declared their first cases, while Scotland has so far logged three.
Health chiefs are alarmed about the ever-growing cluster of cases, given the smallpox-like infection is usually only spotted in Africa. The majority are among gay and bisexual men.
Officials are confident the monkeypox outbreak will not grow exponentially like Covid, saying the risk to the public remains low.
However, they have urged Britons, especially men who have sex with men, to be on the look out for any new rashes or lesions, which appear like spots, ulcers or blisters, on any part of their body.
It comes as experts today warned monkeypox may now be endemic in the UK and Europe forever, leading experts have warned as the virus normally confined to areas of Africa continues to spread around the world.
Dr Adam Kucharski, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said it was unlikely the current outbreak would spiral into a pandemic like Covid because it spreads through prolonged close contact.
But the epidemiologist, who is also a member of the UK’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), warned the ‘biggest risk’ is that cases will ‘not be eliminated in some places’.
He said any persistent transmission increases the risk that the virus — closely related to smallpox — could be passed onto pets, meaning there will be permanent reservoirs of infection, as is the case in Africa.
EU health chiefs have already acknowledged this threat and are considering a cull for all hamsters, gerbils and guinea pigs owned by monkeypox patients.
In the UK, officials are also expected to release guidance telling infected Britons to keep their distance from family pets.
Monkeypox has now been identified in all four nations of the UK, as the number of confirmed domestic cases yesterday rose to 90. A disproportionate number are among gay and bisexual men.
Twenty countries across the world have now been affected by the current outbreak, with Finland today becoming the latest to confirm an infection. Argentina, Bolivia and Sudan are all probing suspected cases.
*Courtesy: Daily Mail