SCOTLAND is not facing “Covid Two”, a leading scientist has said, after a patient tested positive for monkeypox.

Scotland’s first case of the disease, which is closely related to smallpox, was confirmed earlier today.

The person, who has been quarantined in an unnamed hospital, is believed to have been infected in the UK but has no links with the index case - a traveller who returned from Nigeria and fell ill in early May.

Contact tracing is underway, and supplies of antivirals and smallpox vaccine - which is around 85 per cent effective against monkeypox - are being stockpiled in Glasgow and Edinburgh, ready to be offered to the patient's close contacts.

It came as the total number of confirmed cases in the UK rose to 57, with 36 new infections detected in England.

Monkeypox is also spreading globally.

READ MORE: First case of monkeypox identified in Scotland 

Dr Nick Phin, director of public health science and medical director at PHS, said he was confident the outbreak will be contained.

He said: “I don’t think this is Covid Two - in fact I’m sure this is not Covid Two.

“There are a number of striking differences between this and Covid.

"We've got a longer incubation period. We've got an effective vaccine.We've got effective medication.

"And there is not what we understand to be an asymptomatic phase - in other words, when you've got symptoms, that's when you're infectious.

"All of these things mean it's easier to identify. And the longer incubation period means that we've got longer to look back for contacts, and offer them vaccine to hopefully prevent the development of [disease]. It does make it much more straightforward to control."

Monkeypox is spread by close contact with an infected individual, such as skin-to-skin contact, inhalation of droplets from coughing or sneezing, or from handling items such as bedding or towels which have come into contact with the blood blisters characteristic of the infection.

Sequencing of the current strain indicates that it is highly similar to a handful of cases previously identified in the UK in 2018 and 2019, which were found in people recently returned from Nigeria.

However, scientists have been surprised at the speed and scale of community transmission, as the virus is rarely detected outside of hotspots in Central and Western Africa and, when it is, tends to be directly associated with travel.

Dr Phin said transmission was likely to have been boosted by superspreading events, such as an infected individual mixing in crowded places, rather than any significant genomic mutations.

The virus which causes monkeypox is a DNA virus, which is typically much more stable than the single-strand RNA viruses which cause diseases such as Covid.

However, a paper published this afternoon by scientists in Portugal said the virus driving the outbreak appeared to have around 50 mutations compared to the 2018/19 strain "which is far more than one would expect considering the estimated substitution rate for Orthopoxviruses" - the family of viruses to which smallpox and monkeypox belong.

They added: "One cannot discard the hypothesis that the divergent branch results from an evolutionary jump."

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Another theory is that the world's population has become more susceptible over time because most younger adults were never vaccinated against smallpox as infants.

The jab has not been administered routinely in the UK since 1971.

Dr Phin added: "What we're trying to do by early identification and vaccination of contacts up to two weeks after exposure will reduce the severity of disease, and the fact that people are symptomatic when infectious makes it much easier to contain.

"I'm confident that we're not dealing with another Covid issue. This is a very different viral infection."

The incubation period from exposure to symptom onset can range from around five to 21 days.

Anyone identified as a contact is required to self-isolate for three weeks. Initial symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion.

A rash can develop, leading to blisters which scab over and can cause scarring - similar to chickenpox - when they fall off.

It is mild for most people, but pregnant women and people who are immunosuppressed are at higher risk of serious disease.

READ MORE: What is monkeypox and how worried should we be? 

Bill Hanage, an epidemiology professor at Harvard, said it was "very plausible that transmission has been happening for some time unnoticed because folks don't expect to see monkeypox and so don't diagnose it".

Monkeypox was first discovered in 1958 among monkeys kept for research, but the first known human case was identified in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.