What we know so far – POLITICO

Just when the world thought the worst of COVID was over, the outbreak of another virus has scientists worried.

Cases of monkeypox are being investigated in the UK, Portugal, Sweden, Italy, Spain, France, Belgium, the US and Canada.

Experts are concerned about the unusual spread of the disease. Monkeypox is generally endemic in Africa, with occasional isolated cases associated with overseas travel. But recent cases in Europe appear to be spreading from person to person for the first time without any direct link to Africa, according to the European Union’s disease control agency. What’s more, health authorities in some countries noted that transmission appeared to be concentrated among gay or bisexual men.

POLITICO takes a deep dive into what we know so far.

What is monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a disease caused by a virus in the same family as smallpox.

Symptoms of monkeypox usually begin with fever, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, and headache. Typically, within one to three days of the onset of a fever, a distinct bumpy rash — usually starting on the face — begins and spreads, including the hands and feet.

However, monkeypox is less deadly than smallpox. The West African type found by scientists in Europe had a mortality rate of just under 4 percent. So far, no deaths have been reported in the latest European outbreak, but monkeypox can keep patients in bed for days at a time. The disease usually lasts two to four weeks.

Where is the case?

In this latest outbreak, the UK became the first country to detect a monkeypox case on May 6. Since then, total Nine people have been found to have the disease in the country. Most of the cases were among gay or bisexual men, the UK Health Security Agency said. The virus has also been found elsewhere in Europe.Portugal Report 14 cases of monkeypoxSpain comfirmed 7 cases and 22 suspected cases. Simultaneously, Italy and Sweden So far, everyone has confirmed one case.

Canada is investigating several potential monkeypox cases, according to local media.There is also a case report In the United States, the man had recently traveled to Canada.

Why are experts worried?

The concern expressed by virologist Marion Koopmans is that monkeypox cases have been detected in several different countries, given that monkeypox is generally not very contagious. Koopmans, Head of Department of Virology, Erasmus MC, tweet On Thursday, the outbreak “started to be worrying.” Sporadic imported cases in the past usually don’t continue to spread, she said. “In this case, new cases were detected in different countries,” she said. “It’s very unusual.”

It may be that monkeypox has become more spreadable, Koopmans said, and there is an “urgent need” for more information.

More broadly, Michael Hyde, a senior research fellow in global health at the University of Southampton, said imported cases “indicate a broader burden of disease elsewhere in the world.”

“It may be that in a post-pandemic setting, we should think more about understanding the local and global impacts of Lassa, monkeypox, Ebola and other rare but serious pathogens,” he said.

What advice do experts have?

The ECDC is asking public health groups to raise awareness about monkeypox in communities who have sex with men, have multiple sexual partners, or have casual sex.

Earlier this week, the vice-chancellor of the University of Southampton, commenting on the UK case, said monkeypox was not sexually transmitted. “More importantly, close contact during sexual or intimate activities, including prolonged skin-to-skin contact, may be a key factor in transmission,” he explained.

Jimmy Whitworth, professor of international public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said the outbreak in the UK was “unprecedented”. But, he said, if cases were identified, isolated and treated, and close contacts identified and monitored, it could be “quickly brought under control”.

In countries with a smallpox vaccine, the ECDC recommends that vaccination of high-risk close contacts be considered after a risk-benefit assessment. If antiviral drugs are available, they should be considered for severe cases, the agency said. In Spain, the newspaper El País report The country’s Ministry of Health is preparing to purchase a smallpox vaccine to help control the outbreak.

This article has been updated.

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