Monkeypox spreads in Europe as Sweden, Italy, France and Belgium confirm first cases

Infection reports mark a global transmission of the disease as cases emerge in US and even Australia

Shweta Sharma
Friday 20 May 2022 11:37
Comments
What is Monkeypox?

Monkeypox infections have spread to at least seven European countries as Sweden, France, Belgium and Italy have become the latest to announce their first cases of the viral infection.

The new cases mean increasing global transmission of the disease, with infections having emerged in the US and even Australia.

Monkeypox is endemic to some African countries, although isolated cases have been found outside the continent in the past.

Health officials across Europe are now racing to detect the increasing spread of the disease, with the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) saying it is “monitoring the situation closely”.

Italy’s first monkeypox case was detected at the Spallanzani hospital in Rome, which has two other suspected cases, the local health authorities confirmed on Thursday.

The infection was detected in an individual who had come from the Canary Islands. The person is being kept in isolation.

Sweden also confirmed a monkeypox case in Stockholm. The infected person “is not seriously ill, but has been given care,” Sweden’s Public Health Agency said in a statement.

Swedish heath authorities are conducting an investigation to ascertain if there are more cases in the country. It is not known how the person got infected.

France confirmed a case of the virus in the Paris region on Friday, reported several French media outlets.

And Belgium also reported its first two monkeypox cases, diagnosed by virologists in different cities, reported Reuters.

The UK announced its first case on 7 May, and now has nine cases of the virus, prompting authorities to offer a smallpox vaccine to some healthcare workers and others who may have been exposed.

Monkeypox belongs to the same virus family as smallpox, a disease which was eradicated in 1980, but causes milder symptoms.

Monkeypox, which is common in remote parts of central and west Africa, has sparked alarm across the world as the disease appears to be spreading among people who don’t have a travel history to Africa.

The virus originates in wild animals like rodents and primates and occasionally jumps to people. Initial symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion.

A rash can develop, often beginning on the face of the infected person before it starts to spread to other parts of the body, including the hands, feet and genitals.

The UK’s health agencies said cases are reported mostly among gay or bisexual men. Mateo Prochazka, an infectious disease epidemiologist at the UK Health Security Agency, said the trend is “highly suggestive of spread in sexual networks”.

ECDC, the EU health agency, said on Thursday that it will publish a first risk assessment report “early next week” as cases continue to spread.

It recommended that all the “suspected cases should be isolated and tested and notified promptly”.

Health authorities in Spain confirmed seven cases of the infection, while announcing 23 suspected cases transmitted through sexual contact.

“In general, its transmission is via respiratory drops but the characteristics of the 23 suspected infections point to it being passed on through bodily fluids during sex relations (sic),” they said in a statement.

“All of them are young adult males and most of them are men who have sexual relations with other men, but not all of them,” Elena Andradas, in charge of public health in the Madrid region, told Cadena Ser radio.

Portugal has five confirmed cases of monkeypox in young men, while authorities are investing another 15 suspected cases. All the cases were identified around the capital Lisbon.

The US reported its first cases of monkeypox in eastern Massachusetts on Wednesday in a man who had a travel history to Canada, which has also confirmed two cases of the virus.

Authorities in the Quebec province are investigating 17 suspected cases with symptoms linked to monkeypox.

“Tonight, the Province of Quebec was notified that two samples received by the NML (National Microbiology Laboratory) have tested positive for monkeypox. These are the first two cases confirmed in Canada,” the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) said in a statement.

Australia reported its first monkeypox case on Friday in an individual with a travel history to Britain.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in