More than 200 cases of monkeypox worldwide: EU disease agency

The number of confirmed cases of monkeypox worldwide has reached 219 outside countries where it is endemic, according to an update released by the European Union’s Disease Bureau.

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More than a dozen countries where monkeypox is uncommon, mainly in Europe, have reported at least one confirmed case, the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said in an epidemiological note released Wednesday evening.

“This is the first time chains of transmission have been reported in Europe with no known epidemiological links to West or Central Africa, where this disease is endemic,” the note said.

It added that most cases were discovered in young men, who identified themselves as having sex with men.

The United Kingdom – where the unusual appearance of monkey pox was first discovered in early May – currently has the highest number of confirmed cases, 71.

It is followed by Spain with 51 cases and Portugal with 37.

Outside of Europe, Canada has 15 and the United States has nine.

The total number of cases reported on Wednesday has increased fivefold since the first count on May 20, when the EU agency said there were 38 cases.

The risk of infection is “very low,” the ECDC said earlier this week, but warned that people who have had multiple sexual partners — regardless of their sexual orientation — are at higher risk.

“The clinical presentation is generally described as mild,” it said, adding that there were no deaths.

Monkeypox – a less serious disease compared to its cousin smallpox – is endemic to 11 countries in West and Central Africa.

It spreads through a bite or direct contact with the blood, flesh, or bodily fluids of an infected animal, and the first symptoms are a high fever before rapidly progressing to a rash.

People infected with it also develop a chickenpox-like rash on their hands and face.

There is no treatment, but the symptoms usually disappear after two to four weeks and are usually not fatal.

Maria Van Kerkhove, the emerging disease leader for the World Health Organization, said Monday that monkeypox is a “controllable situation”.

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