The United States, Spain and Portugal announce cases of the rare virus infection, two weeks after the United Kingdom identified its first case.
Health authorities are on alert over the spread of monkeypox, a rare viral disease first reported in the Democratic Republic of Congo in the 1970s, after new cases emerged in Europe and the United States confirmed its first infection.
Portugal said on Wednesday it had identified five cases of monkeypox, Spain said it was testing 23 potential cases and the US state of Massachusetts said it had found a case in a man who had recently traveled to the Canada.
The UK was the first to confirm a case of monkeypox earlier this month. It has now detected seven cases and is working with the World Health Organization (WHO) to investigate the spread of the virus after it was unable to link the initial case, in a man who had traveled from Nigeria, to the more recent.
Health authorities suspect some of the infections may have occurred through sexual contact – in this case among gay or bisexual men – with four of the UK cases identified among people who visited sexual health clinics after developing the associated rash at monkeypox.
“No source of infection has yet been confirmed for family clusters or GBMSM,” the WHO said in a statement on Wednesday. “Based on the information currently available, the infection appears to have been acquired locally in the UK. The extent of local transmission is unclear at this stage and it is possible to identify further cases.
Monkeypox, which is similar to human smallpox, usually begins with a flu-like illness and swollen lymph nodes, followed by a rash on the face and body. Most people recover from the disease, which is endemic in parts of West and Central Africa and usually results from close contact with infected animals, within weeks, but it can be fatal.
The five Portuguese patients, out of 20 suspected cases, are all in stable condition, according to the country’s health authorities. They are all men who live in the Lisbon area and the Tagus Valley, they added.
Madrid health authorities said the cases discovered in Spain appeared to be linked to sexual contact.
“In general, its transmission is by respiratory drops but the characteristics of the 23 suspected infections indicate that it is transmitted by bodily fluids during sexual relations,” they said in a statement, without giving further details.
“All of them are young adult men and most are men who have sex with other men, but not all of them,” Elena Andradas, public health officer for the Madrid region, told Cadena Ser radio. .
US health officials said the Massachusetts man who developed monkeypox traveled to Canada to see friends in late April and returned home in early May. He is currently being treated in hospital.
Jennifer McQuiston of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that while this was the only case the CDC was aware of, “I think we are preparing for the possibility of other cases” .
The agency is in contact with counterparts in the UK and Canada as part of the investigation, but McQuiston said no link has been made so far.
There are two types of monkeypox virus: the West African clade and the Congo Basin clade (Central Africa). The case fatality rate for the West African clade has been documented to be around 1% and up to 10% for patients from the Congo Basin clade.
The WHO said that while smallpox vaccination was effective against monkeypox, the end of mass smallpox vaccination programs meant that people under 40 or 50 no longer had this protection.
The UK has already reported cases of monkeypox – all linked to travel to Nigeria – as has the US. An outbreak there in 2003 was traced to pet prairie dogs that had been housed with small animals imported from Ghana that were found to carry the virus.
#Europe #United #States #alert #emergence #cases #monkeypox