The virus is endemic in parts of Africa but rare seen outside the continent until recents weeks (Picture: Reuters)

Another 14 cases of monkeypox have been identified in the UK, taking the total to 71.

A rare outbreak of the smallpox-like disease is continuing to spread, alarming health officials around the world.

All but one of the cases are in England, with the other previously confirmed to be in Scotland, while Wales and Northern Ireland have seen none so far.

The updated figures were confirmed by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), which has continued to stress the risk to the UK population remains low despite the ‘significant and concerning’ spate of infections.

Stocks of the smallpox vaccine are being bought by the government and offered to close contacts of confirmed infections.

Those at the highest risk of contracting the disease are being asked to self-isolate at home for 21 days, with others warned to be on the lookout for symptoms.

Transmission between people is occurring in the UK, with a large proportion of cases identified in the gay, bisexual and men who have sex with other men community.

Monkeypox is not normally a sexually transmitted infection, but it can be passed on by direct contact during sex.

The virus has spread across the world in recent weeks, despite previously rarely being identified outside of Africa (Picture: Metro Graphics)

Leading global health experts are exploring the possibility that raves in Europe are fuelling the outbreak.

Professor David Heymann, the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) former assistant director-general for health security and environment, is reported to have said it is a leading theory among many under consideration.

As of Monday, the WHO had recorded for than 90 cases in a dozen countries, including the US, Canada, Australia and several more in Europe.

Denmark announced its first case yesterday, while Portugal and Italy both revised their counts up.

Dr Susan Hopkins, Chief Medical Adviser, UKHSA, said: ‘We are continuing to promptly identify further monkeypox cases in England through our extensive surveillance and contact tracing networks, our vigilant NHS services, and thanks to people coming forward with symptoms.

‘If anyone suspects they might have rashes or lesions on any part of their body, particularly if they have recently had a new sexual partner, they should limit their contact with others and contact NHS 111 or their local sexual health service as soon as possible, though please phone ahead before attending in person.’

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