Italy and Sweden have become the latest countries to report cases of the rare disease monkeypox, with the United Kingdom, Spain, Portugal and the United States already dealing with the outbreak.
Monkey pox occurs in central and western Africa, often near tropical rainforests, and is considered endemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where it was first discovered in humans in 1970.
The disease can be transmitted from person to person through air droplets, near body contact or by sharing contaminated bedding or objects.
According to the Swedish Public Health Agency, a person is infected in the Greater Stockholm area.
– The person who is infected with the virus in Sweden is not seriously ill but receives treatment, says infection expert Klara Sonden in a statement.
“We do not yet know where the person became infected. The investigation of this is ongoing.”
A first appox infection has also been discovered in Italy.
The head of health for the Lazio region, Alessio D’Amato, said on Facebook that the case had been confirmed at the Italian National Institute of Infectious Diseases.
The news agency ANSA reported that the infected man had returned from a trip to Spain’s Canary Islands and is in isolation at a hospital in Rome.
The French Ministry of Health said on Thursday that the first suspected case of the appox virus on French territory has been discovered in the Paris / Ile-de-France region.
The World Health Organization, which is already preoccupied with the coronavirus pandemic that has hit the world over the past three years, has called for vigorous contact tracking of the number of cases.
To date, four countries in Africa have reported cases of smallpox in 2022, namely Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Nigeria, the WHO said.
The general public and health clinics should be aware of and have unusual skin rashes examined by specialist staff, says the WHO in a separate statement.
If monkey pox is suspected, patients should be isolated, the health authority continued.
The American Center for Disease Control and Prevention announced on Wednesday that a person there had been infected.
A resident of the US state of Massachusetts in the northeastern part of the country was tested on Tuesday, with the CDC lab confirming monkey pox the next day.
The infected person had recently traveled to Canada by private transport, the CDC noted.
The Canadian broadcaster CBC reported that health officials in Quebec are investigating whether monkey pox has broken out there after it was announced that a visitor to the province was later confirmed as a case.
In Spain, eight infections were reported in the capital Madrid, according to the news agency Europa Press, with reference to health authorities.
In Portugal, the newspaper Publico reported that 20 people had been infected.
The majority of the cases reported so far concern men who have had sexual contact with other men.
The number of cases detected in the UK has risen to nine, health officials said on Wednesday.
The first, discovered in early May, was a person who had recently traveled to Nigeria.
British authorities have advised the public, especially men who have sex with men, to be aware of any damage to their bodies.
The virus usually causes symptoms similar to smallpox but milder.
The cases can also be serious.
Smallpox has been considered extinct worldwide since 1980 following a major vaccination campaign.
Experts suspect that the pathogen that causes monkey pox is circulating in rodents – monkeys are so-called false hosts.
According to the WHO, previous cases of monkey pox were usually due to travel to areas in western and central Africa.
The WHO said that smallpox has been more common in Nigeria in recent years.
Since 2017, a total of 558 suspected cases have been reported there.
Of these, 241 have been confirmed and eight people have died.
with reporting from Reuters