A case of monkeypox has been identified in Hertfordshire, as the number of infections nationwide rises past 50.

Hertfordshire council confirmed that a case had been found in the county today (Tuesday, May 24), and said the person involved was "prompt and proactive" in seeking clinical care.

A council spokesperson said: "We can confirm that a positive case of monkeypox has been identified in Hertfordshire.

"Close contacts are being contacted and are being given the appropriate health information and advice.

"Our resident was extremely prompt and proactive in seeking clinical attention, and we wish them a full and speedy recovery."

The spokesperson added: "This disease is not specific to any particular gender, sexual orientation or ethnicity and it is most likely to be transmitted via close physical contact.

"We are urging people with a recent history of travel to west Africa and gay and bisexual men to be aware of unusual rashes or lesions especially on their faces or genitals and to contact NHS 111 if they have any concerns.

"If you have concerns, please ring 111 first and do not attend a clinic or service in person before telephoning.

"Working with UK Health Security Agency, NHS and local community groups, we have plans in place to ensure people get support and treatment, and to ensure close contacts are traced and offered appropriate prophylaxis including vaccination where necessary.

"All NHS services have been advised.

"The infection can be distressing but is mild and rare."

When was the first case of monkeypox identified in the UK?

According to the UK Government, monkeypox began spreading in the UK on May 7, 2022, when an individual with recent travel history to Nigeria tested positive for the virus.

On May 14, two individuals from the same household tested positive - with no known links to the the first individual.

By May 16, four additional cases - not linked with the first three diagnoses - were uncovered.

Cases of monkeypox were also identified in 2021, 2019 and 2018, the government said.

A total 56 cases have been identified since May 7 nationwide.

Dr Susan Hopkins, the UK Health Security Agency's chief medical adviser, said: "Alongside reports of further cases being identified in other countries globally, we continue to identify additional cases in the UK.

"Thank you to everyone who has come forward for testing already and supported our contact tracing efforts – you are helping us limit the spread of this infection in the UK.

"Because the virus spreads through close contact, we are urging everyone to be aware of any unusual rashes or lesions and to contact a sexual health service if they have any symptoms.

"A notable proportion of recent cases in the UK and Europe have been found in gay and bisexual men so we are particularly encouraging these men to be alert to the symptoms."

A 21-day isolation programme is in place for people who have tested positive.

The UK Health Security Agency has purchased a smallpox vaccine called Imvanex which is being offered to "close contacts", and more than 1,000 doses have already been issued.

Monkeypox is 'usually mild'

An NHS sexual health clinic in London - 56 Dean Street - has urged men who have sex with men to take precautions.

A 56 Dean Street statement reads: "The UKHSA has identified multiple confirmed cases of monkeypox in gay men. This suggests the virus can be passed on during sex."

The clinic specialises in the needs of the LGBTQI+ community.

The statement continues: "Monkeypox is usually a mild illness that settles on its own, but it can sometimes become more serious.

"The symptoms of monkeypox begin five to 21 days after being exposed to the virus.

"Usually the first signs are a high fever, muscle and joint aches, enlarged lymph glands and a severe headache.

"One to five days later a rash appears. In the current outbreak not everyone developed a fever.

"The rash often starts on the genitals or face before spreading to other parts of the body.

"The rash changes and goes through different stages before finally forming a scab which later falls off leaving healthy skin underneath.

"Once the final scab has dropped off they are no longer infectious."

They said treatments such as ibuprofen and paracetamol should ease discomfort in cases of mild illness, and that anybody who suspects they may have monkeypox should self-isolate for 21 days.

Full NHS guidance is online: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/monkeypox/