The Health Ministry said Thursday it was taking precautions against the possible spread of monkeypox in Israel, as an outbreak of the viral disease in Europe alarmed medical authorities.
The ministry said no cases of monkeypox had been detected in the country. The virus comes from wild animals like rodents and primates and sometimes jumps to humans, where it can be transmitted through close contact. Until recently, most human cases were in central and western Africa, where the disease is endemic.
But health officials in Portugal, Spain and the UK have all reported multiple cases recently, and people in the US and Italy have also been confirmed to have the virus.
The Health Ministry said it had asked medical staff to be on the lookout for symptoms of the disease, which can be fatal in up to 10% of cases, according to the World Health Organization.
Most patients experience only fever, body aches, chills, and fatigue. People with more severe illness may develop a rash and sores on the face and hands that may spread to other parts of the body.
The ministry has urged anyone who returns from overseas and develops a fever accompanied by sores to seek medical attention.
There have been cases of the disease in Israel in the past, Channel 13 News reported.
The incubation period for monkeypox is about five days to three weeks. Most people recover in about two to four weeks without needing to be hospitalized. The disease is thought to be more severe in children.
People exposed to the virus often receive one of several smallpox vaccines, which have been shown to be effective against monkeypox. Antiviral drugs are also being developed.
On Thursday, the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control recommended isolating all suspected cases and offering high-risk contacts the smallpox vaccine.
He said the likelihood of transmission without close contact is low. But he warned that “the likelihood of further spread of the virus through close contact, for example during sexual activity, is considered high”.
The center recommended that authorities and community organizations raise awareness about the epidemic among men who have sex with other men or who have casual sex or multiple partners.
Monkeypox has not previously been documented as being spread sexually, but can be transmitted through close contact with infected people, their clothing, or bedding.
Health officials in Spain reported seven cases of monkeypox and Portugal updated its number of confirmed cases to 14.
In Spain, all cases reported so far have involved men in Madrid, officials said. Health officials are currently testing 22 other suspected cases, said Antonio Zapatero of the regional health department.
In Rome, the Lazzaro Spallanzani hospital announced on Thursday that it had confirmed a case of monkeypox in a patient who had recently traveled to the Spanish Canary Islands. Sweden’s public health agency also reported a case on Thursday, saying it was still unclear how the patient became infected.
Meanwhile, the number of confirmed cases in Britain has risen to nine. The UK Health Security Agency said on Wednesday that recent cases reported this week had been seen “predominantly in gay, bisexual or men who have sex with men”, although it noted that there were no It was unclear how exactly people had been infected.
The US state of Massachusetts on Wednesday reported a case of monkeypox in a man who recently traveled to Canada, prompting authorities to investigate potential links to the outbreak in Europe.
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