First case of monkeypox in France

AOutbreaks of monkeypox in the UK, Portugal, Spain, Italy, France and the USA are alarming. In Spain, health authorities reported the first seven cases on Thursday. There are also 22 suspected cases, all in the Madrid region. “It is possible that we will have more cases in the coming days,” the head of the capital region’s health service, Antonio Zapatero, told Onda Cero radio. Also in Italy, the first case of monkeypox infection was detected at Spallanzani Hospital in Rome. According to the clinic, the person who returned from a stay in the Canary Islands is in isolation. Two other suspected cases are still under investigation. In the evening, the French Ministry of Health reported initial evidence in the Paris / Ile-de-France region. According to a report, a first case of monkeypox has also been detected in Belgium. The infected person was reported to the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp, public broadcaster VRT reported on Thursday evening, citing researcher Isabel Brosius. The infected person was not very sick, he added. The person’s contacts would be identified.

In Portugal, the number of infections increased by nine to a total of 14 cases. The nine patients in Portugal are in stable condition and are being closely monitored, according to Portuguese health authority DSG. Most cases have been reported in and around the capital, Lisbon. Experts are now trying to identify chains of infection and possible new cases. People with “suspicious symptoms” such as rashes have been told to avoid direct physical contact with others.

The outbreaks are worrying because the viral disease, which is spread through close contact and was first discovered in monkeys, occurs mainly in West and Central Africa and very rarely elsewhere. The Robert Koch Institute has advised considering monkeypox infection in case of suspicious symptoms – especially in those returning from (West) Africa. As four of the UK cases involve men who have sex with men, men with unusual skin changes and lesions who have had sex with other men should also seek immediate medical attention.

“Will not trigger a nationwide epidemic”

Monkeypox is caused by a virus that causes symptoms of fever and a characteristic rash. It is spread by close contact, both through animal transmissions and, although less frequently, between people. It was first found in monkeys in 1958, and rodents are now thought to be its primary host. The disease is generally mild, although there are two main strains: the Congo strain, which is more severe – with a mortality rate of up to 10% – and the West African strain, which is fatal in around 1% cases. The cases in Britain are attributed to the West African tribe.

“Very few cases have been exported in the past. Before this year, it only happened eight times,” said Jimmy Whitworth, professor of international public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. He described the spread as “very unusual,” but also advised not to panic: “It won’t start a national epidemic like Covid did, but it is a serious epidemic of a serious disease – and we must take it seriously”.

The first case of monkeypox in a man who recently traveled to Canada was reported in Massachusetts on Wednesday. The first case became known in Britain in early May, where seven cases have been confirmed so far.

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