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Monkeypox: Cases discovered and suspected in Portugal, Spain


Portuguese authorities said on Wednesday they had identified five cases of the rare monkeypox infection and Spanish health services are testing eight potential cases after Britain put Europe on high alert for the virus.

The five Portuguese patients, out of 20 suspected cases, are all stable. They are all men and they all live in the Lisbon and Tagus Valley region, Portuguese health authorities said.

European health authorities have been monitoring any outbreak of the disease since Britain reported its first case of monkeypox on May 7 and has found six more in the country since then.

None of the eight suspected cases in Spain have yet been confirmed, the Spanish Ministry of Health said in a statement on Wednesday.

Monkeypox is a rare viral infection similar to human smallpox, although milder, first reported in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the 1970s. The number of cases in West Africa has increased over the past decade.

Symptoms include fever, headache, and rash starting on the face and spreading to the rest of the body.

It is not particularly contagious between people, Spanish health authorities said, and most infected people recover within weeks, although serious cases have been reported.

Four of the cases detected in Britain self-identified as gay, bisexual or other men who have sex with men, the UK Health Security Agency said, adding evidence to suggest there may be transmission in the community.

The UK agency urged gay and bisexual men to be aware of any unusual rashes or lesions and to contact a sexual health service without delay.

The Spanish Ministry of Health and the Spanish health authority DGS of Portugal did not release any information about the sexual orientation of monkeypox patients or suspected patients.

Both countries have sent alerts to medical professionals to identify more possible cases.

(Reporting by Patricia Rua in Lisbon and Christina Thykjaer in Madrid; Editing by Inti Landauro and Alison Williams)

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