British health authorities have been put on high alert after a senior official at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) expressed concern following the discovery of a rare and unusual occurrence of monkeypox in the UK.

The official, Jennifer McQuiston, also pointed to the possibility that the outbreak could spread beyond U.K. borders.

Since early May, health authorities in the UK have reported seven confirmed and one probable case of the disease. The discovery of the cases is somewhat strange because cases of monkeypox are rare in humans, especially outside West and Central Africa.

As of the time of going to press, health officials were still trying to solve the puzzle of where the patients with the virus had contracted it from as fears that the virus may be spreading undetected continue to mount.

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The virus is most common in West or Central Africa where people contract it from animals. However, due to international travel, the virus can be spread across borders. Monkeypox presents symptoms like fever, body aches, enlarged lymph nodes and eventually "pox," or painful, fluid-filled blisters on the face, hands and feet.

The disease has two versions namely the West African clade and the Congo basin clade. The West African clade has a fatality rate of 1% while the Congo basin clade is more lethal with a fatality rate of 10%. However, the risk of transmission is low as transmission necessitates close contact with bodily fluids such as coughing saliva or pus from lesions.

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However, 7 of the 8 cases in England do not involve recent travel to Africa, implying that the patients in those cases contracted the virus in England suggesting that the virus is spreading undetected in the community.

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