SPANISH holiday hotspots are on alert after eight suspected cases of monkeypox are being probed.
Nearby Portugal has reported a confirmed five infections, after the UK has so far seen seven cases.
None of the eight suspected cases in Spain have been confirmed yet, the Spanish Health Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.
The five Portuguese patients, out of 20 suspected cases, are all stable.
They are all men and live in the region of Lisbon and the Tagus Valley, the Portuguese health authorities said.
In the UK health chiefs are also probing the possibility the virus could be transmitted during sex.
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This is due to new theories emerging surrounding the spread of the virus – which could have been due to intimate contact, such as during sex.
While it doesn't necessarily mean it is a sexually transmitted disease in the exact sense that HIV is, it means any close contact that comes with sex could pass it on more easily.
It followed health chiefs warning gay and bisexual men to be on the lookout for new unexplained rashes.
This came after four of the new cases identified as gay or bisexual, having all picked up the bug in London.
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Infections have risen rapidly, after the first patient travelled with the virus back into Britain from Nigeria.
A monkeypox rash usually begins one to five days after the first symptoms appear, the NHS says.
Spots often start on the face before spreading to other parts of the body.
The rash affects the face mostly (95 per cent of cases) and hands (75 per cent), according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
During the illness, the rash changes from raised red bumps, to spots filled with fluid.
The spots eventually erupt and form scabs which later fall off.
The rare disease is spread by wild animals in parts of west or central Africa.
However, it can be transmitted through contact with clothing or linens – including bedding – used by an infected patient.
Dr Susan Hopkins, Chief Medical Adviser, UKHSA, said: “This is rare and unusual.
"UKHSA is rapidly investigating the source of these infections because the evidence suggests that there may be transmission of the monkeypox virus in the community, spread by close contact.
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"We are particularly urging men who are gay and bisexual to be aware of any unusual rashes or lesions and to contact a sexual health service without delay.
“We are contacting any potential close contacts of the cases to provide health information and advice.”
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