Health authorities in North American and European countries have detected dozens of suspected or confirmed cases of monkey pox since the beginning of May. With the advance, the fear grows that the disease, endemic in some regions of Africa, is spreading across the planet.
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Canada was the latest country to report that it is investigating more than a dozen suspected cases of the disease, after Spain and Portugal detected more than 40 possible and verified cases.
The UK has confirmed nine cases since 6 May. The United States reported the first case this Wednesday (18): a man from Massachusetts tested positive for the virus after visiting Canada.
The disease, which has a low fatality rate, has infected thousands of people in parts of central and western Africa in recent years, but is infrequent in Europe and other continents. Most infected people can recover within weeks.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday that it was working in coordination with British and European health authorities to try to stop the new outbreaks.
“We need to better understand the extent of monkeypox in endemic countries to understand the truth about how it is circulating and the risk it poses to people, as well as the risk of export,” said epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove.
The first case in the UK was identified in a person who had traveled to Nigeria, but subsequent cases were possibly through community transmission, according to the Health Safety Agency (UKHSA).
“The most recent cases, together with case reports from countries across Europe, confirm our initial concern that monkeypox could be spreading in our communities,” commented Susan Hopkins, medical adviser to the British government.
The WHO also said that many of the reported cases are of people who identify as gay, bisexual or men who have sex with men.
“We are seeing transmission between men who have sex with men,” said WHO Deputy Director-General Ibrahima Socé Fall. “This is new information that we need to investigate properly to better understand the dynamics of local broadcasting in the UK and other countries.”
‘No risk to the population’
“Anyone, regardless of sexual orientation, can spread smallpox through contact with bodily fluids, smallpox sores, or shared objects (such as clothing and bedding) that have been contaminated with fluids or wounds from a person with smallpox,” the Center said. for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the United States.
The American health institution added that household disinfectants can kill the virus on surfaces. The symptoms include fever, muscle aches, and swollen lymph nodesbefore causing a chickenpox-like rash on the face and bodyexplained the American agency.
In addition, the Massachusetts Department of Health reported that the state’s case — the first confirmed this year in the US — occurred in a patient who had recently been to Canada and “does not pose any risk to the population.” According to the agency, the person is hospitalized and is doing well.
Health officials in the Canadian province of Quebec announced that they were investigating at least 13 suspected cases of monkeypox, according to public broadcaster CBC. The records were reported to Montreal authorities after diagnoses were made at various specialist clinics.
The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) told the CBC it has asked “public health authorities and associated laboratories across Canada to be vigilant and investigate any potential cases.”