Nigeria has launched an investigation to identify the source of a monkeypox outbreak that has infected two people in the UK with the potentially deadly disease.
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said it was cooperating with Public Health England after two apparently unrelated cases of monkeypox were reported in Cornwall and Blackpool.
Both patients are believed to have travelled to Nigeria, where a significant outbreak of the virus began 12 months ago. Seven of the 113 people known to have contracted the virus in Nigeria have died.
Cases of the disease, which is normally spread from animals to humans, have been reported in 16 of Nigeria’s 36 states.
“Following the recent report of the two cases in the UK, NCDC has been working with the UK’s public health agency… to investigate these cases,” the NCDC said in a statement, adding that the body was taking steps “to strengthen surveillance, detection and response to cases of monkeypox.”
Monkeypox remains a rare disease and is usually confined to remote parts of central and West Africa, where locals are likely to come into contact with infected wild animals. The disease is often spread through handling monkeys and rodents, health officials say.