Britain is stocking up on thousands of monkeypox vaccines and treatments amid fears the current spate of cases is only the tip of the iceberg.
Nine Britons have been diagnosed with the contagious virus so far and the majority of cases are not linked, suggesting it is spreading more widely.
The UK’s drug watchdog told MailOnline it was monitoring the current outbreak and ‘working with companies to speedily bring forward suitable treatments’.
Antiviral drugs and jabs designed to target smallpox have cross protection against monkeypox, with the two viruses genetically very similar.
The latest outbreak has been described as ‘unusual’ by experts because person-to-person transmission of monkeypox was thought to be extremely rare.
Six of Britain’s cases are in gay or bisexual men, which officials say is ‘highly suggestive of spread in sexual networks’.
Cases have also been announced in the US, Spain and Portugal, making it the most widespread monkeypox outbreak to date. Canada also has suspected cases.