June 7 (UPI) — Health officials in Britain said that from Wednesday the monkeypox virus will be listed as a notifiable infectious disease as hundreds of cases have been detected in the European county in the past month.
The designation requires doctors to notify their local council or health authority if they suspect a patient has monkeypox while requiring laboratories to notify the British health security agency if it has a confirmed case.
“Rapid diagnosis and reporting is the key to interrupting transmission and containing any further spread of monkeypox,” Wendi Shepherd, monkeypox incident director at the nation’s health security agency, said in a statement. “This new legislation will support us and other health partners to swiftly identify, treat and control the disease.”
The designation was made as British health officials battle an outbreak of the rare disease.
Since its first confirmed case on May 7, more than 300 people, mostly gay or bisexual men, have been diagnosed with the virus, according to health officials.
More than two dozen countries have also confirmed at least one case of the virus. According to a report from the World Health Organization on Saturday, 27 member states had tallied 780 infections, with Britain responsible for the largest number of infections.
The U.N. health body said the number of laboratory confirmed cases increased by more than 203% since May 29.
Meanwhile, U.S. Centers and Disease Control and Prevention has counted 1,088 cases in 29 countries as of Tuesday evening.
In response, the CDC on Monday raised its monkeypox alert to Level 2, Practice Enhanced Precautions on the three-level scale.
“Risk to the general public is low, but you should seek medical care immediately if you develop new, unexplained skin rash (lesions on any part of the body), with or without fever and chills, and avoid contact with others,” it said.
The United States has confirmed 35 infections as of Tuesday afternoon, according to the CDC.
The rare disease is spread via body fluids and coming into contact with monkeypox sores.
The CDC said symptoms include fever, headache, muscles aches, backache, chills and exhaustion, among others.
Its incubation period is usually between seven and 15 days, after which a fever may develop. Between one and three days after the appearance of the fever, a rash on the face may form and spread to other parts of the body. The illness lasts from two to four weeks, the federal health agency said.