Over 100 monkeypox cases in Europe, WHO calls for emergency meet: Report

Monkeypox is a virus transmitted to humans from animals, with symptoms very similar to smallpox but less severe clinically.
An image created during an investigation into an outbreak of monkeypox in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), 1996 to 1997. CDC/Brian W.J. Mahy/Handout via REUTERS/IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY.(via REUTERS)
An image created during an investigation into an outbreak of monkeypox in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), 1996 to 1997. CDC/Brian W.J. Mahy/Handout via REUTERS/IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY.(via REUTERS)
Updated on May 21, 2022 01:14 PM IST
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By | Edited by Chandrashekar Srinivasan

The World Health Organization has called for an emergency meeting to discuss the rapidly growing monkeypox outbreak, British publication Telegraph said Friday hours after France, Germany and Belgium confirmed their first cases. They join the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Sweden, Canada, Australia and the United States in reporting a disease endemic to parts of Africa. Monkeypox cases in Europe have now crossed 100, Reuters said. Data collected by an Oxford University academic says that number is closer to 130. READ: Monkeypox FAQ: Symptoms, treatment and vaccines explained

Here are the top 10 points in this big story:

> The French monkeypox patient is from the country's Ile-de-France region, which includes Paris. He had not, however, recently returned from a country where the virus is circulating, France's health authorities said Friday.

> In Belgium, Flemish broadcaster VRTNWS said both patients were at the same party in an undisclosed location. The first person was diagnosed in Antwerp (not the place of residence) but is not seriously ill; the individual and their partner have been isolated. The second case is a man from the Flemish Brabant region. He too is not seriously ill, AFP said citing Belgian media reports.

READ: Nations where this rare disease has been identified so far. List here

> The first case from Germany was confirmed by the Institute for Microbiology of the German Armed Forces in Munich. German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said: "We will now analyse the virus more closely and examine whether it involves a more contagious variant."

READ: More cases of monkeypox virus found in United States, Europe

> Spanish authorities reported 14 confirmed cases on Friday, taking the total number to 21. There are another 20 suspected cases - 19 in the central region of Madrid and one in the Canary Islands, Reuters quoted health authorities.

> The US' Centers for Disease Control is tracking six more possible monkeypox cases. All were in close contact with a fellow traveller - on a flight from Nigeria to the United Kingdom earlier this month - who has shown symptoms.

> The US this week reported its first case in 2022 - a Massachusetts man who recently travelled to Canada in April and returned this month. Last year, Texas and Maryland each reported a case in people who had travelled to Nigeria.

READ: United States reports first monkeypox case of 2022

> Portugal has 23 cases so far, with at least 10 others tracked. A spokesperson for the country's public health group on monkeypox told Reuters "the health authority… is worried" and stressed the need to break transmission chains.

> The UK Health Security Agency said Friday it had detected 11 new infections taking the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 20. The UKHSA has warned gay and bisexual men, after the World Health Organization this week said: "We are seeing transmission among men having sex with men."

READ: UK health experts warn gay, bisexual men against the virus

> Canada has two confirmed cases so far. However, authorities in Quebec province are investigating 17 suspected cases. Sweden has one case while Italy reported two more Friday to take its total to three.

> Australian has two confirmed monkeypox cases - one in Sydney and another in Melbourne. Like the vast majority of other cases, both patients are male.

What is monkeypox?

Monkeypox is usually a mild viral infection with symptoms that include fever, headaches and skin rashes. It originates in wild animals like rodents and primates, and then spreads to people.

There are two main variants - the Congo strain, which has up to 10 per cent mortality, and the West African strain, which has a fatality rate of 1 per cent.

The virus belongs to the same family as the smallpox.

Is there a vaccine?

There is not, as yet, a specific vaccine against the monkeypox virus. However, the UKHSA has said that because it is of the same family as the smallpox virus, a vaccine for that disease does offer some protection.

With input from AFP, Reuters


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