OTTAWA (Parliament Politics Magazine) – An uncommon viral infection related to smallpox, called Monkeypox, has now been recorded in Canada, USA and numerous European countries, marking an unexpected international breakout of a disease that is normally restricted to Africa.
After Spain and Portugal discovered over 40 possible and confirmed cases, and the United Kingdom confirmed nine, Canada is apparently examining a dozen suspected cases in Montreal.
In the United States, an unusual case of monkeypox was diagnosed in a man on Wednesday who had travelled to Canada, and health officials are investigating if it is linked to the cases in Europe.
Many cases have been reported among people who identify as gay, bisexual, or males who have sex with men, according to the WHO.
According to officials, all of the instances documented in Portugal involve men, the majority of whom are young. They have skin lesions but are said to be in stable health.
Authorities did not specify whether the individuals had previously travelled to Africa or if they had any ties to recent incidents in the United Kingdom or abroad.
Monkeypox has never been known to spread through intercourse, although it can be spread by close contact with infected persons, their clothing, or their bedsheets.
What triggered this outbreak?
On May 7, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) became the first European health authority to publicly announce a case of monkeypox in a person who had recently travelled into the UK from Nigeria. A total of nine instances have been confirmed since then.
They were advising bisexual and gay men in particular to be vigilant of any unusual rashes or lesions and to seek immediate medical help, said Dr Susan Hopkins, the chief medical adviser of the agency.
The UKHSA advised being careful for lesions on the genitalia in particular.
The agency announced on Wednesday that two additional instances of monkeypox had been discovered, one in London and the other in southeast England, bringing the total number of cases to nine. According to the report, neither case had previously travelled to Africa and there was a possibility they were infected in the UK.
There were no known links between the cases and other previously confirmed patients, implying that numerous chains of monkeypox transmission are already active in the country.
Portugal verified five instances of monkeypox in young males on Wednesday and is investigating 15 more suspected cases. All were discovered this month in the Lisbon area.
The Madrid region of Spain was looking into 23 suspected cases involving young males, the majority of whom had sex with other men.
Image via WHO