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Extremely Rare Monkeypox Cases Reported in Non-Endemic Countries

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By Josh Piers - - 5 Mins Read
More cases of monkeypox are being reported in Europe and North America, but doctors say the disease does not pose a severe threat to the public at this time. At least 17 instances of the rare disease have been confirmed in non-endemic countries such the United States, the United Kingdom, Portugal, Sweden, and Italy, and dozens more are being investigated in those countries, as well as Canada and Spain. The majority of cases occur when people come into contact with infected animals in countries where the virus is endemic, which is typically central and western Africa, as was the case with the outbreak's first case, which occurred on May 7 in England among a person who had recently traveled to Nigeria. According to the UK, none of the remaining eight patients had any travel history and had no interaction with the patient who had visited Nigeria. Similarly, the first infection in the United States was in an adult male from Massachusetts who had recently gone to Canada, and Canadian authorities are currently investigating at least 17 cases. The public health risk is low, according to experts, and most people do not need to be concerned about catching the sickness right away. Dr. John Brownstein, an epidemiologist at Boston Children's Hospital and an ABC News contributor, stated, "It's important to stress that this is not a new virus." "This has been around for a long time; it's largely native to western Africa, although it can be found in other regions of the world on occasion." Animals infect people most commonly through bites or scratches, or by the preparation and eating of contaminated bush meat. Large respiratory droplets in the air can also spread the disease from person to person, but they can only travel a few feet, so two people would need to be in close proximity for a lengthy time. Dr. Shira Doron, an infectious disease physician and hospital epidemiologist at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, said "It is a virus in a very distinct class from COVID-19." "It primarily survives in animal reservoirs, thus it may inadvertently spread to people, causing sporadic disease or minor outbreaks." Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by the monkeypox virus, which was initially discovered in monkeys held for research in 1958 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The first human case was discovered in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1970.

What You Should Know About This Rare Virus

[caption id="attachment_10544" align="alignnone" width="736"] A child infected with monkeypox two weeks after being bitten by a prairie dog in the US[/caption] Monkeypox is mostly present in Central and Western Africa, with infections in other parts of the world being rare and usually tied to travel to those areas. The virus is spread via close contact with an infected animal, person, or contaminated materials such as towels or bedding, usually through respiratory droplets but also through contact with bodily fluids or monkeypox lesions. Fever, muscle aches, headache, chills, tiredness, and swollen lymph nodes are common early signs of monkeypox, with many people developing a rash one to five days after the fever develops. The rash, which can resemble chickenpox or syphilis, evolves and progresses, with lesions eventually scabbing over and flaking off. Although the scabs themselves can still retain infectious material, a person is contagious until all scabs have fallen off and there is unbroken skin underneath. While children are at higher risk than adults, the disease can cause difficulties during pregnancy, including stillbirth and congenital monkeypox, and has a fatality rate of between 1% and 10%, according to the WHO.


According to the CDC, there are no established, safe therapies for monkeypox that have been authorized for use in the United States. It claims that epidemics may be controlled with smallpox vaccines, antivirals, and vaccinia immune globulin, a medicine generated from the blood of smallpox vaccine recipients. While there are more choices for combating smallpox, they are still restricted, and supplies are low due to the disease's eradication more than four decades ago, which means that relatively few people under the age of 40 or 50 have been inoculated. The US exercised a $119 million option on Wednesday to manufacture the sole FDA-approved vaccine for smallpox—which also protects against monkeypox—though these are scheduled to be manufactured in 2023 and 2024. It is unclear whether the United States will participate. This option was used by the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) because of the monkeypox epidemics or for another reason (countries stockpile smallpox vaccines for defense.