Monkeypox is something “everyone should be concerned about” and the United States is studying the types of treatments and vaccines available, President Joe Biden has said.
The World Health Organization has identified about 80 monkey pox cases worldwide and about 50 other suspected cases.
Cases of the smallpox-related disease have previously only been seen among people with links to West and Central Africa.
A leading doctor told Sky News UK faces ‘significant rise’ in cases over the next week, with 20 infections confirmed so far.
Speaking in South Korea before boarding a flight to Japan, Mr Biden said US health officials were looking into possible treatments and vaccines.
“It’s something everyone should be concerned about,” the US president said.
“We are working hard on it to understand what we are doing and what vaccine, if any, might be available for this.
“It’s a concern in a sense that if it were to spread, it’s consequential.”
Monkeypox, which comes from primates and other wild animals, causes fever, body aches, chills, and fatigue in most patients.
People with severe cases may develop a rash and lesions on the face, hands, and other parts of the body.
New infections were reported in Europe and North America over the weekend, with Israel recording its first case on Sunday – the first case identified in the Middle East.
Professor David Heymann, an infectious disease specialist at the World Health Organization, said he believed the virus had entered the population in a “sexual form”.
He said: “What seems to be happening now is that it has entered the population in a sexual form, in a genital form, and is spreading like sexually transmitted infections are, which has amplified its transmission. in the world.”
The chair of the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) told Sky News she expects more cases of monkeypox to be identified in the UK.
Dr Claire Dewsnap said: “What worries me the most is that there are infections across Europe, so it has already spread.
“It is already circulating in the general population.
“It could be really big numbers over the next two or three weeks.
“I certainly expect a significant increase over the next week.”
The UK Health Security Agency said a notable proportion of recent cases in Britain and Europe have been found in gay and bisexual men.
In Spain, most of its 30 confirmed cases have been linked to a sauna in Madrid.
To date, no one has died in the outbreak.
Dr Dewsnap said some health workers have received the smallpox vaccine, which can be effective against monkeypox, and discussions are ongoing about giving doses to “potential risk groups”.