Monkeypox in Italy and Sweden as WHO on alert

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Italy and Sweden have become the latest countries to report cases of monkeypox, a rare disease, with the UK, Spain, Portugal and the US already grappling with the outbreak.

Monkeypox is found in central and western Africa, often near tropical rainforests, and is considered endemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where it was first discovered in humans in 1970.

The disease can be transmitted from person to person through air droplets, close body contact, or sharing contaminated laundry or objects.

According to the Swedish Public Health Agency, one person is infected in the greater Stockholm area.

“The person infected with the virus in Sweden is not seriously ill but is receiving treatment,” infectious disease expert Klara Sonden said in a statement.

“We don’t know yet where the person was infected. The investigation into this is ongoing. »

A first monkeypox infection was also detected in Italy.

The Lazio region’s health chief, Alessio D’Amato, said on Facebook that the case had been confirmed at Italy’s National Institute of Infectious Diseases.

ANSA news agency reported that the infected man had returned from a trip to Spain’s Canary Islands and was in isolation in a hospital in Rome.

The French Ministry of Health announced on Thursday that the first suspected case of monkeypox virus on French territory was detected in the Paris/Ile-de-France region.

The World Health Organization, already busy with the coronavirus pandemic that has hit the world for the past three years, has called for vigorous contact tracing of the wave of cases.

So far, four countries in Africa have reported cases of monkeypox in 2022, namely Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria, WHO said.

The general public and health clinics should be aware of and have unusual rashes examined by specialist personnel, the WHO said in a separate statement.

If monkeypox is suspected, patients should be isolated, the health body continued.

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on Wednesday that one person had been infected there.

A resident of the northeastern US state of Massachusetts was tested on Tuesday, with CDC labs confirming monkeypox the following day.

The infected person had recently traveled to Canada using private transportation, the CDC noted.

Canadian broadcaster CBC reported that health officials in Quebec are investigating whether monkeypox has broken out there after being told that a visitor to the province was later confirmed as a case.

In Spain, eight infections have been reported in the capital Madrid, according to news agency Europa Press, citing health authorities.

In Portugal, the Publico newspaper reported that 20 people had been infected.

The majority of cases reported so far involve men who have had sexual contact with other men.

The number of cases detected in the UK has risen to nine, health authorities announced on Wednesday.

The first, detected in early May, was a person who had recently traveled to Nigeria.

British authorities have advised the public, especially men who have sex with men, to be alert to any lesions on their bodies.

The virus usually causes symptoms similar to smallpox but milder.

Cases can also be severe.

Smallpox has been considered eradicated worldwide since 1980 after a major vaccination campaign.

Experts suspect that the pathogen that causes monkeypox circulates among rodents – monkeys are so-called false hosts.

Previous cases of monkeypox were usually due to travel to areas in West and Central Africa, according to the WHO.

The WHO said monkeypox has emerged more frequently in Nigeria in recent years.

Since 2017, a total of 558 suspected cases have been reported there.

Of these, 241 have been confirmed and eight people have died.

with information from Reuters

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