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Rare disease being spread
Health authorities in Spain have issued an alert over a potential outbreak of monkeypox – a rare and incurable viral infection – in Madrid. The alert follows similar outbreaks in the UK and Portugal, and all of the Spanish patients are gay men.
Spain’s Ministry of Health sent an alert to regional health authorities on Tuesday, after health officials in Madrid recorded eight suspected cases of monkeypox. Samples have been sent to Spain’s National Center for Microbiology for a definitive diagnosis.
“Generally speaking, monkeypox is spread by respiratory transmission, but the characteristics of the eight suspected cases point towards fluid contact,” a spokesperson for Madrid’s regional health department told the Guardian. “The eight suspected cases in Madrid are among men who have sex with men. They are doing well but this illness can require hospital treatment.”
Monkeypox is similar to human smallpox, which was eradicated in 1980, and can be confused with chickenpox. Its initial symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills, and exhaustion. A rash often begins on the face and then spreads to other parts of the body.
There is no cure for monkeypox, although most patients experience mild symptoms and recover within a few weeks.
US confirms first case of rare disease
A Massachusetts man has been diagnosed with monkeypox after traveling to Canada, the US Centers for Disease Control and Massachusetts Department of Public Health confirmed on Wednesday.
While the agencies are working with his healthcare providers and local health boards to identify anyone who had contact with him, they insist his case poses no risk to the public, and he is reportedly hospitalized and in good condition.
The case is the first to surface in the US this year and comes on the heels of an alert by the Spanish authorities of a potential outbreak of the virus among 23 people in Madrid. While typically spread by respiratory transmission, a spokesperson for Madrid’s regional health department said the local outbreak was driven by “fluid contact,” noting that eight of the suspected cases were found in gay men.
Monkeypox cases investigated in Europe, US, Canada and Australia
Cases of Monkeypox are being investigated in European countries as well as the US, Canada and Australia, according to health authorities and local media reports.
The latest new cases were reported in France, Italy, Sweden and Australia.
It follows the confirmation of cases in the US, Spain and Portugal on Wednesday, as well as the investigation of 13 suspected cases in Canada.
Monkeypox is most common in remote parts of Central and West Africa.
Cases of the disease outside of the region are often linked to travel to the area.
Monkeypox is a rare viral infection which is usually mild and from which most people recover in a few weeks, according to the UK's National Health Service.
The virus does not spread easily between people and the risk to the wider public is said to be very low.
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Though no vaccine has been approved for Monkeypox in Europe, Spanish health authorities have reportedly purchased thousands of smallpox vaccines to deal with the outbreak, according to Spanish newspaper El País. Monkeypox is a member of the same family of viruses as smallpox.
US buys millions of vaccine doses for new virus
The US health authorities have signed a deal for $119 million in vaccine doses against the monkeypox virus, after a Massachusetts man was diagnosed with the rare but potentially serious illness earlier this week.
The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) – a government agency devoted to combating pandemics and bioterrorism – signed the multi-million-dollar contract with Danish pharma firm Bavarian Nordic on Wednesday, the company announced in a statement.
The $119 million deal is one in a series of contract options which could ultimately reach a total value of $299 million if exercised, in exchange for around 13 million freeze-dried doses of the Jynneos vaccine. It was originally created for smallpox, but was approved for use against monkeypox by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2019, just months before the first cases of Covid-19 were detected in China.
At least 7 countries now have either confirmed or suspected patients of Monkeypox. Sweden and Italy are the latest countries to report cases. Should you be worried?
Belgium’s Risk Assessment Group has announced a 21-day quarantine for patients with monkeypox after three people in the country were diagnosed with the virus, which has surfaced in over a dozen countries in the past week. The health authority issued the declaration on Friday.
A fourth case of monkeypox was diagnosed on Sunday, virologist Marc Van Ranst revealed on social media. He noted that, like the previous three instances, the individual in question was connected to the international gay fetish festival Darklands, which was held in early May in Antwerp.
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