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Monkeypox Found in Atypical Countries

The World Health Organization (WHO), announced today that there are around 80 confirmed cases of the Monkeypox virus infection in eleven countries, stating that these outbreaks are atypical because they are occurring in non-endemic countries.  They went on to confirm that they are working closely with partners to understand the extent and the cause of the recent outbreaks.

The WHO stress that it is working with both affected and non affected countries as it expands its  surveillance of the disease, to find and support people who may be infected, and to provide guidance on how to manage the disease. However, they ask that populations remain alert, stay informed through reliable health services and obey any safety recommendations with regard to symptoms and infections.

Both Israel and Switzerland have confirmed Monkeypox cases, while an increase in the number of cases in Spain has led the authorities to approve new health measures which must be adopted by all infected people and close contacts.

In the United States, New York authorities announced that a resident of the city has tested positive for the Monkeypox virus, is self isolating at home, and that they are waiting for a second confirmation by the Centres for Disease Control. The New York case comes after Massachusetts health officials confirmed their first case of Monkeypox on the 18th of May. 

US President Joe Biden spoke on the subject for the first time yesterday, on the sidelines of his Asian tour, declaring that the impact of the spread of smallpox could be “substantial,” He went on to say that he had not yet been fully informed by US health authorities of the US’s “exposure level” to the virus, but considered that “it is something that everyone should be concerned about.”

Israeli authorities say they have detected their first case of smallpox in a man who recently returned from a Western European country, and confirmed they are investigating other suspected cases.

Israel’s Health Ministry said the man was admitted on Saturday to a hospital in Tel Aviv with mild symptoms, and urged anyone returning from abroad suffering from a fever and skin lesions to seek medical attention.

Switzerland also reported the first case of smallpox, saying that the infected person is attending an outpatient clinic and is self isolating at home. 

In Spain, the Ministry of Health and communities agreed on Saturday the protocol to be followed for those infected with the Monkeypox virus, which includes mandatory mask wearing, isolation for those infected, and that any contact with other people is strictly limited.  

In Spain there have already been at least 30 cases confirmed by PCR test, all in the Community of Madrid and linked to a sauna in the city which has since been closed, although suspected cases are growing across the country, the main focus is on the capital, Madrid, where there are between 15 to 39 suspected cases.

The disease has been detected in 12 countries in the last 10 days, including Portugal (23 cases according to the Directorate-General for Health), Spain, France, Germany, Great Britain, the United States, Sweden and now Israel and Switzerland.

Smallpox is a rare disease whose pathogen can be transmitted from animals to humans and vice versa.

Its symptoms include – fever, headache, muscle aches, back pain, during the first five days. Then rashes, lesions, pustules which scab over in the final stage of the illness. 

Samantha Gannon

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