Israel and Switzerland recorded this Saturday (21) the first cases of monkeypox on their territories. Other cases of the disease, endemic in central and western Africa, were confirmed earlier this week in Europe and North America. The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) does not rule out vaccination to stop a possible epidemic. Spain, the most affected European country, has already ordered millions of doses of the smallpox vaccine.
The infected Israeli is a man in his 30s who recently returned from Europe, according to a spokesman for Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv. On Friday (20), the Israeli Ministry of Health reported that the man, who has mild symptoms, had contact with a sick person during the trip.
In Switzerland, the first case concerns a person from the canton of Bern who was also returning from a trip to another country. A mapping of the patient’s contacts to identify possible chains of transmission has been carried out, according to local authorities in a statement. The infected person is in isolation at his home and all contacts have been informed, according to the same source.
France, Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States, Sweden, Spain and Canada have recorded cases of the disease.
The most recent cases in Western countries have been seen in men who have had sex with men, according to the WHO, which indicated on Friday (20) that it should study the transmission of the virus between homosexuals.
The evolution of the disease worries the health authorities. Contaminations could increase on the European continent, according to the director of the European arm of the WHO, Friday, in a press release, specifying however that most infections were mild.
To prevent an outbreak, the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) does not rule out vaccination with smallpox vaccines. “If the country has smallpox vaccines, vaccination of close and high-risk contacts should be considered after a benefit/risk assessment,” recommends the ECDC.
Faced with the increase in cases in Spanish territory, the Spanish Ministry of Health stepped forward and ordered millions of doses of smallpox vaccine. Spain is the country with the highest number of virus infections in the world, with 30 confirmed cases.
Monkeypox, or “orthopoxvirus simia” is a rare disease that can be transmitted from animals to humans and vice versa.
Symptoms resemble, to a lesser extent, those seen in smallpox: fever, headache, muscle and back pain for the first five days. Then rashes appear on the skin of the face, palms and feet.
There are no specific treatments or vaccines for the virus, but it is possible to contain outbreaks, says the World Health Organization (WHO). The disease usually heals spontaneously and symptoms last between 14 and 21 days.
Severe cases are more common in children and are related to exposure to the virus, the patient’s medical condition and the severity of complications. The case fatality rate can vary widely between outbreaks, but was less than 10% in all documented cases.
Human-to-human transmission occurs through contact with respiratory secretions and skin lesions of an infected person or contaminated objects.