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France, Germany report first monkeypox cases as UK figures more than double to reach 20

The rare disease — which is not usually fatal — often manifests itself through fever, muscle aches and other signs.

Image: PA

Updated May 20th 2022, 12:38 PM

FRANCE AND GERMANY have reported their first cases of monkeypox, joining a number of other European and North American nations in detecting the disease endemic in parts of Africa.

Eleven new cases of monekypox have also been confirmed in the UK, more than doubling its number to 20. 

It comes as the World Health Organisation is reportedly intending to hold an emergency meeting on the disease.

According to Reuters, its committee which advises WHO on infection risks that may pose a threat to global healthdue will meet later today. 

Monkeypox was identified in a 29-year-old man in the Ile-de-France region, which includes Paris, who had not recently returned from a country where the virus is circulating, France’s health authorities said today.

Separately, the German armed forces’ microbiology institute said it has confirmed the virus in a patient who developed skin lesions — a symptom of the disease.

Monkeypox is a viral zoonotic illness which, similar to other diseases such as Covid-19, is transmitted to humans from animals, with symptoms like those experienced by those who contract smallpox.

There are two strains of the virus: West African monkeypox and Congo Basin monkeypox, originating in Central Africa.

The latter strain is more severe with a fatality rate of up to 10%, but it is the milder West African strain (with a fatality rate of around 1%) which is currently spreading in Europe and North America.

The virus is usually passed to people when they come into very close contact with rodents and primates, or if they eat infected bushmeat.

However, there are also cases of human-to-human transmission, particularly among those who come into close physical contact with infected lesions, bodily fluids or recently contaminated materials like clothes or bedding. 

Eleven new cases of monekypox have been confirmed in the UK, the Health Secretary has said.

In the UK, Sajid Javid tweeted that he had updated G7 health ministers on what is known about the spread of the virus. There are now 20 cases recorded in the UK.

He said: “Most cases are mild, and I can confirm we have procured further doses of vaccines that are effective against monkeypox.”

The Government has some stocks of the smallpox vaccine, which can be effective against monkeypox as the viruses are quite similar.

 With the growing number of detected cases in several European countries, Germany’s health agency Robert Koch Institute has urged people returning from West Africa, and in particular gay men, to see their doctors quickly if they notice any chances on their skin.

The rare disease — which is not usually fatal — often manifests itself through fever, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion and a chickenpox-like rash on the hands and face.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has said it was looking closely at the issue and in particular that some of the cases in the UK appeared to have been transmitted within the gay community.

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Cases of monkeypox have also been detected in Italy, Portugal, Spain and Sweden as well as in the United States and Canada, leading to fears that the disease — normally concentrated in Central and West Africa — may be spreading.

Monkeypox usually clears up after two to four weeks, according to the WHO.

With reporting by PA and Stephen McDermott

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