A handful of cases of monkeypox are now being reported or suspected in the United Kingdom, Portugal and Spain.
Outbreaks appear to be exacerbated during this time, as the disease occurs mostly in West and Central Africa and only occasionally spreads elsewhere.
Here is what scientists know so far.
Monkeypox is a virus that causes fever as well as a distinct rash. It is usually 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 has a mortality rate of more than 1%. In the case of the UK it has been reported as a strain in West Africa.
Jimmy Whitworth, professor of international public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said: “Historically, very few cases have been exported. This is only eight times in the past year.” Very unusual “.
Portugal has five confirmed cases, and Spain is investigating 23 possible cases. No country has reported a case before.
The virus is spread through close contact, both in the spillover of animal hosts and less commonly among humans. It was first found in monkeys in 1958, hence the name, although rats are now seen as a major source of infection.
This time the infection is surprising to experts, as in several cases in the UK – nine as of May 18 – there is no known connection to each other. The first case reported on May 6 recently traveled to Nigeria.
As such, experts warn of widespread infection if the case is not reported.
The UK Health Security Agency’s warning further highlights that recent cases are mainly among men who are gay, bisexual or have sex with men, and advises those groups to be cautious.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said this week that scientists would now look at the virus sequentially to see if they were infected.
One possible scenario behind the increase in lawsuits is the increase in travel due to the lifting of the Covid ban.
“The theory of my work would be that it has a lot to do with West and Central Africa, travel has started again and that’s why we’re seeing more cases,” Whitworth said.
Monkeypox warns virologists because it belongs to the smallpox family, although it causes less serious illness.
Smallpox was eradicated by vaccination in 1980, and the shot was phased out. However, it also protects against monkeypox, and so vaccination campaigns have jumped on monkeypox, according to Ann Remoin, a professor of epidemiology at UCLA in California.
But experts urge people not to panic.
“It will not cause a nationwide epidemic like Kovid, but it is a serious disease outbreak – and we should take it seriously,” Whitworth said.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published from a syndicated feed.)