Monkeypox: what is known so far about cases in Europe and the US

Mão de criança infectada pela varíola dos macacos, em 2003.

Hand of a child infected with monkeypox, in .| Photo: EFE/CDC

Monkeypox is a viral disease endemic in Central and West Africa. This week, however, diagnoses of the disease are being made in Europe and North America. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it manifests itself through fever, muscle aches, swollen glands and skin rashes on the hands and face, like chickenpox.

The WHO warns that the disease, which is transmitted through droplets of body fluids, direct contact with the skin or contaminated objects, poses a greater risk to children and pregnant women, who can transmit smallpox from monkeys to fetuses.

Countries in Europe and North America have reported details of new cases of monkeypox in the last week.

First cases were detected in the UK

The first cases in Europe were reported last Sunday (15) in the UK, with four confirmations, with no history of travel to risky regions. This suggests a community transmission that would already be present in British territory.

A WHO has published a monitoring report on the situation, which does not include countries other than the UK. According to the organization, the virus found in the country carries mutations and has a lethality of 1%, while the variant registered in Central Africa reaches 10%.

The organization also pointed out that the traditional smallpox vaccine is effective against the disease. However, human smallpox, which is highly lethal (about 30%) was eradicated 40 years ago. The immunization campaigns ended shortly afterwards, so the younger generations do not have this protection and would be more susceptible to contracting the monkey virus, which is related and in the same family as the human smallpox virus (family Poxviridae).

Spain and Portugal add up to more than


The Directorate General of Health of Portugal (DGS) confirmed this Thursday ( ) the record of more 900 cases of monkeypox. It also reported that it keeps under observation a dozen patients suspected of having the virus. The public agency had already reported nine positives for the disease, while the National Institute of Health Doctor Ricardo Jorge (INSA) announced that it still had two other samples under analysis. “The majority of cases occur among young people, all male”, informed the DSG health authority.

Spain also issued an official statement warning about the disease. “Normally, transmission happens through the airways. But the 23 suspected cases suggest that the transmission took place through the mucous membranes, during sexual intercourse”, explain the Madrid health authorities in a statement published this Thursday (

Both Portugal and Spain declared a national health alert.

Italy announces first confirmed case

This Thursday (19 ), Italy confirmed the first case of monkeypox in the country. The disease was identified in a young adult who was in the Canary Islands, as specified by the Spallanzani hospital in Rome.

After the announcement by the Italian authorities, the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), informed that it should publish, within a week, the first report on evolution of the risks of monkeypox.

United States confirms first case and Canada analyzes exams

According to Radio Canada, patients are being screened in the country and one case has been confirmed in Massachusetts, in the United States, from a traveler who was in Canada.

The states of Texas and Maryland reported only two cases in 900 of patients who had recently traveled to Nigeria.

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