British health officials reported 77 more cases of monkeypox on Monday, bringing the total to more than 300 nationwide. To date, the UK has the largest identified outbreak of the disease outside Africa, with the vast majority of infections in gay and bisexual men.
Health officials warn that anyone, regardless of their sexual orientation, is potentially at risk for smallpox if they are in close contact with a patient, the patient’s clothes or bed sheets.
On Sunday, the World Health Organization said more than two dozen countries that had not previously identified cases of monkeypox had reported 780 cases, a jump of more than 200 percent of cases since the end of May. No smallpox deaths have yet been identified outside of Africa.
The UN health agency said most cases in Europe and elsewhere have been detected in sexual health clinics and “have involved mainly, but not exclusively, men who have sex with men.”
So far this year, there have been more than 1,400 cases of smallpox and 63 deaths in four countries where the disease is endemic: Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Congo and Nigeria, according to the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. of Diseases. Genetic sequencing of the virus has not yet shown any direct link to the outbreak outside Africa.
The WHO said the sudden and unexpected detection of monkeypox in many countries “suggests that there may have been undetected transmission for an unknown length of time followed by recent amplifier events.” Last month, a senior WHO adviser said the outbreak in Europe and beyond probably spread by sex in two recent radishes in Spain and Belgium.
A microscopic view of the skin tissue, taken from a skin lesion of a monkey that had been infected with the monkeypox virus, seen in a 1968 photo. (Brochure / Reuters)
The WHO estimated that the risk posed by monkeypox to global health was “moderate,” and said it was the first time so many cases and groups had been reported worldwide. Until last month, the disease was not known to cause major epidemics beyond Central and West Africa, where it has mainly affected people in rural areas who come into close contact with infected wildlife.
The ongoing monkeypox outbreak in Europe and elsewhere, including Canada, Australia, Israel and the United States, is the first time the disease has been known to spread among people who have no previous travel links to Africa.
Canada has at least 77 confirmed cases of smallpox, according to figures provided Friday by the director of public health Canada and Santé Québec, the provincial health ministry.
Of the cases identified so far by laboratory tests, 71 are from Quebec, five from Ontario and one from Alberta. Health officials in British Columbia also reported a confirmed case on Monday.
Action is needed to curb the spread
U.S. health officials say genetic analysis of recent monkeypox cases suggests that there are two different strains in the country, which increases the possibility that the virus has been circulating undetected for some time. Many of the U.S. cases were caused by the same strain as recent cases in Europe, but some samples show a different strain, U.S. federal health officials said.
The British Health Agency said last week that most cases had occurred in gay or bisexual men between the ages of 20 and 49 and that “investigations so far have identified links to gay bars, saunas and ‘use of dating applications in the UK and the UK. abroad’.
Most patients with monkeypox only experience fever, body aches, chills, and fatigue. People with more serious illnesses can develop rashes and lesions on their face and hands that can spread to other parts of the body.
Last week, Dr Rosamund Lewis, WHO’s leading expert on monkeypox, said she doubted the disease would trigger a pandemic, but said action should be taken quickly to curb its spread. be fixed in new areas.