77 new monkeypox cases, biggest outbreak outside Africa- The New Indian Express

Through PTIA

LONDON: British health officials reported 77 more cases of monkey pox on Monday, bringing the country-wide total to more than 300.

To date, the UK has the largest identified outbreak of the disease outside of Africa, with the vast majority of infections affecting gay and bisexual men.

Health officials warn that anyone, regardless of their sexual orientation, may be at risk of developing monkey pox if they are in close contact with a patient, their clothing or their sheets.

On Sunday, the World Health Organization said more than two dozen countries that have not previously identified monkeypox cases reported 780 cases, a more than 200% increase in cases since late May. No deaths from monkeypox have yet been reported outside of Africa.

The UN health agency said most cases in Europe and elsewhere have been reported in sexual health clinics and “primarily, but not exclusively, involve men who have sex with men”.

According to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been more than 1,400 cases of monkey pox and 63 deaths so far this year in four countries where the disease is endemic, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Congo and Nigeria.

Genetic sequencing of the virus has not yet shown a direct link to the outbreak outside Africa.

The WHO said the sudden and unexpected detection of monkeypox in numerous countries “suggests that there may have been undetected transmission for an unknown length of time followed by recent enhancer events.”

Last month, a leading WHO adviser said the outbreak in Europe and beyond was likely spread by sex at two recent raves in Spain and Belgium. The WHO estimated the risk of monkeypox to global health as “moderate”, saying it was the first time so many cases and clusters had been reported around the world.

Until last month, the disease was not known to cause major epidemics outside of Central and West Africa, where it mainly affects rural people who come into close contact with infected wildlife.

The ongoing outbreak of monkeypox in Europe and elsewhere, including Canada, Australia, Israel and the US, is the first time the disease has been known to spread among people who have had no previous travel connections to Africa.

US health officials said genetic analysis of recent cases of monkeypox suggests there are two different strains in the country, raising the possibility that the virus has been circulating undetected for some time. Many of the US cases were caused by the same strain as recent cases in Europe, but a few samples show a different strain, federal health officials said.

The UK’s Health Security Agency said last week that most of the cases involved gay or bisexual men between the ages of 20 and 49 and that “researches so far have linked gay bars, saunas and the use of dating apps in the UK and abroad”.

Most monkeypox patients only experience fever, body aches, chills and fatigue. People with more serious illness may develop skin rashes and lesions on the face and hands that can spread to other parts of the body.

Last week, Dr Rosamund Lewis, the WHO’s top expert on monkeypox, said she doubted the disease would cause a pandemic but said action must be taken quickly to curb its spread so that it doesn’t catch on in new areas become entrenched.

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