Monkeypox, a rare viral infection, appears in small but increasing numbers in Europe.
While the disease is rarely fatal to humans, it has prompted some countries to take precautions and restrictions in order to limit its spread.
What is monkeypox and how does it spread?
Monkeypox is a viral infection that was first found in monkeys. It does not usually spread easily between people. However, it can be transmitted through close physical contact through lesions and body fluids. Like the Corona virus, it can also be transmitted through respiratory droplets, which is the only similarity found between diseases so far.
People who are most susceptible to infection usually have close household contact or sexual contact with an infected person. They may also be at risk if they change the bedding of an infected person without personal protective equipment.
Dr David Heymann, principal advisor to the World Health Organization (WHO), suggested that the current outbreak of the disease may have been Because of sexual contact Between gay and bisexual men at events in Belgium and Spain.
Is monkeypox dangerous to humans?
While outbreaks of monkeypox are alarming, infected people usually recover from the disease within a few weeks without requiring hospitalization. The mortality rate is less than 4 percent.
Symptoms of the virus are usually mild – but they can cause chills, fever and aches at first. Once the fever is gone, a rash often appears that can be itchy or painful and lesions can occur on the face or genitals. Symptoms usually go away on their own after about 14 to 21 days.
While there is currently no specific vaccine for monkeypox, the smallpox vaccine offers 85 percent protection because the two viruses are quite similar. Some antiviral drugs for monkeypox are now being developed.
Those most at risk of developing the disease are immunosuppressed people, pregnant women, and children under 12 years of age.
What countries have monkeypox outbreaks in?
More than 80 cases of monkeypox have been confirmed in at least nine European countries, as well as the United States, Canada and Australia. The United Kingdom, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Italy and Sweden have reported cases of the virus.
The World Health Organization has expressed concern that these recent outbreaks are “atypical… they occur in non-endemic countries”.
Monkeypox is not commonly seen in Europe and is most commonly found in remote parts of central and western Africa.
The UK, where the outbreak was first identified, currently has 21 confirmed cases of monkeypox so far. On Monday, the first case of the virus was detected in Scotland.
Official guidance from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) says anyone who has had direct or household contact with a confirmed case should isolate for 21 days.
In Spain, the number of confirmed cases of monkeypox has reached 34.
The majority of cases in Spain have been traced to an adult sauna party in Madrid that has been identified as a super-widespread event.
On Saturday, Belgium recorded its fourth case of monkeypox. Local media reports traced the outbreak to the Darklands Festival, where three people tested positive.
Belgium became the first country to quarantine monkeypox cases.
The infected must be isolated for 21 days. Contact cases are not obligated to quarantine but it is advised to remain vigil and avoid contact with vulnerable people.
On Monday, Portugal reported 14 new cases of monkeypox, bringing the total to 37. It was reported that many of the injured are young men.
The number of monkeypox cases in Italy has risen to four. Two of the cases are believed to have recently vacationed in the Canary Islands where the parties are being investigated as another source of infection.
Denmark reported its first suspected case of monkeypox on Monday. The person in question reportedly recently returned from a trip to Spain.
What are the travel restrictions in Europe for monkeypox?
Currently, the monkeypox outbreak has not led to travel restrictions.
However, the WHO’s regional director for Europe, Hans Kluge, warned that “as we enter the summer season … with mass gatherings, festivals and parties, I am concerned that transmission could accelerate.”
This could lead to stricter restrictions affecting travel in Europe this summer.