Several dozen suspected or confirmed cases of monkeypox have been identified in Europe and North America since early May, raising concerns that the endemic disease is beginning to spread to West Africa.
The United Kingdom, which first reported cases identified on May 6, said in a statement late Wednesday that it had identified two new cases, bringing the total number of infections to nine.
With the exception of the first infected person who recently traveled to Nigeria, these patients were infected in the United Kingdom, according to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).
“These latest cases, together with case reports in various European countries, confirm what we initially feared that there might be transmission of monkeypox in our communities,” said Dr Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser for the UKHSA, as quoted in the statement.
Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, back pain, swollen lymph nodes, chills, and fatigue. The rash can occur, often on the face, and spread to other parts of the body, including the genitals.
There is no cure for monkeypox, which is spread by contact with an infected person or body fluids, including saliva. This viral infection heals itself.
– Not contagious between humans –
On Wednesday, Spain, Portugal, Canada and the United States, in turn, reported that they found monkeypox or something similar to it in their territory.
Two countries in the Iberian Peninsula reported about 40 suspected or confirmed cases of the disease, prompting authorities in Spain and Portugal to issue a national health alert.
In Canada, more than a dozen suspected cases were investigated in Montreal on Wednesday, the public channel Radio-Canada reported, citing the city’s health authorities.
And in the United States, a man who had recently traveled to Canada tested positive for the disease in Massachusetts.
The authorities want to generally reassure, thus emphasizing in Spain and Portugal that the disease is not very contagious between people.
However, the increase in apparent outbreaks is a concern, with the World Health Organization (WHO) saying on Monday that it is taking a lot of interest in the fact that some cases in the United Kingdom appear to have been transmitted by the homosexual community.
“We are seeing transmission among men who have sex with men,” which is “new information that we need to carefully study to better understand the dynamics” of transmission,” said Ibrahima Sose Fall, Deputy Director General of the Emergency Response Center in Geneva .
But “anyone, regardless of sexual orientation, can spread monkeypox,” said the US Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), the nation’s top federal health agency.