Previously detected in the UK and Portugal, monkeypox is believed to have infected gay men in Madrid
Spanish health authorities have issued an alert about a possible outbreak of monkeypox – a rare and incurable viral infection – in Madrid. The alert follows similar outbreaks in the UK and Portugal, and all of the Spanish patients are gay men.
The Spanish Ministry of Health sent an alert to regional health authorities on Tuesday, after health officials in Madrid recorded eight suspected cases of monkeypox. Samples were sent to the Spanish National Center of Microbiology for a definitive diagnosis.
“Generally, monkeypox is transmitted by respiratory transmission, but the characteristics of the eight suspected cases indicate contact with liquids”, a spokesperson for Madrid’s regional health department told the Guardian. “The eight suspected cases in Madrid relate to men who have sex with men. They are fine but this disease may require hospital treatment.
Monkeypox is similar to human smallpox, which was eradicated in 1980, and can be confused with chickenpox. Its early symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, back pain, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion. A rash often starts on the face and then spreads to other parts of the body.
There is no cure for monkeypox, although most patients have mild symptoms and recover within weeks.
The Spanish outbreak follows similar clusters of infection in the UK and Portugal. Around 20 suspected cases of monkeypox were found in young men near Lisbon this week, while a similar outbreak in the UK was first noticed earlier this month. As of Monday, the UK Health Safety Agency (UKHSA) had confirmed seven cases of monkeypox, with the four most recent cases all involving gay or bisexual men.
Monkeypox is endemic to parts of West and Central Africa, where it can be caught by infected wild animals such as rats, mice and squirrels. The first case in the UK involved a patient with “a recent travel story from Nigeria,” according to the UKHSA.
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