Geneva, May 24 (EFE).- More cases of monkeypox were confirmed Tuesday in non-endemic countries, with Spain the most affected of the 17 nations outside Africa that have reported cases of the virus.
The total of confirmed infections has risen to 131, with a further 106 suspected cases, the World Health Organization said.
Spain has reported 40 confirmed cases and 51 suspected, ahead of 16 other countries outside of West and Central Africa, where the disease is endemic.
Most of the global cases are in Europe, although some have also been reported in Pakistan, Israel, Canada, the United States and Australia, the WHO said during its annual assembly.
The disease has been endemic for at least 40 years in West and Central African countries, and while there had previously been cases reported in other parts of the world, they had always been linked to people who had traveled to Africa. This is the first time such a widespread, global outbreak has been observed.
Expert Rosamund Lewis, from the WHO’s smallpox department, told a press conference Tuesday that for now the outbreaks are small (among families, groups of acquaintances). Transmission is mostly through close contact, so the risk to the general population is low, she said.
Symptoms of the disease include fever, swollen lymph nodes, headaches, muscle fatigue and rashes on the face, hands, feet, eyes or genitals.
Lewis recommended that those who develop these symptoms should consult health professionals, isolate themselves at home and avoid physical contact with others.
Vaccines against conventional smallpox – a more serious disease – are 85% effective against monkeypox, but many younger people are not vaccinated against smallpox, which was considered eradicated globally four decades ago.
Lewis acknowledged that the world’s stock of monkeypox vaccine is currently “limited”, as inoculation campaigns were suspended years ago.
The first case of monkeypox in the world was detected in 1970 in a child in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and so far this year alone 12,000 suspected cases have been reported in that country, the expert said. EFE