Multiple outbreaks of rare monkeypox virus detected across Europe

Multiple cases of the rare monkeypox virus have been reported in England, Spain, and Portugal, all with currently unknown origins.

Published Thu, May 19 2022 4:32 AM CDT   |   Updated Wed, Jun 8 2022 4:22 AM CDT

The U.K. Health Security Agency (UKHSA) noted six cases in England across London and Newcastle and has warned of potential spread within the community.

Multiple outbreaks of rare monkeypox virus detected across Europe 01 |

The monkeypox viral disease is caused by the monkeypox virus, which belongs to the same family of viruses that causes smallpox. Health officials warned on May 17th that the virus could potentially spread to other countries. On May 18th, cases were reported in Spain and Portugal, with eight potential cases in Spain and five confirmed cases with over a dozen probable cases in Portugal.

Monkeypox is a rare infection that results in symptoms including fever, headache, muscle aches, exhaustion, and swollen lymph nodes. As the infection progresses, rashes appear across the body, resulting in discolored patches of skin, blisters, scabs, and bumps.

The virus is endemic to Africa, resurfacing periodically, resulting in fatalities in about 10% of cases. Most cases result in mild illness that lasts about two to four weeks. Previous cases of monkeypox that have been reported outside of Africa involved international travel or animal imports. However, the source of the recent infections in each country is currently unknown.

"This is rare and unusual. UKHSA is rapidly investigating the source of these infections because the evidence suggests that there may be transmission of the monkeypox virus in the community, spread by close contact," said Dr. Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser for the UKHSA, in a statement released on May 16th.

"Investigations are underway to establish links between the latest 4 cases, who all appear to have been infected in London. All 4 of these cases self-identify as gay, bisexual or other men who have sex with men," the UKHSA statement wrote.

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