Fourteen countries have confirmed cases of the viral illness monkeypox. Now, one country has ordered anyone who contracts the illness to self-quarantine for three weeks. And they’ve only confirmed three cases so far.
The Daily Mail reports that the three Belgium infections “are all linked to a festival in the port city of Antwerp.”
In the UK, Dr Claire Dewsnap, president of the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV, is quite concerned. She said: “Our response is really critical here. There is going to be more diagnoses over the next week. How many is hard to say. What worries me the most is there are infections across Europe, so this has already spread. It’s already circulating in the general population. Getting on top of all those people’s contacts is a massive job. It could be really significant numbers over the next two or three weeks.” Dr. Dewsnap also predicts a “significant rise over this next week.”
“The rare viral infection, which people usually pick up in the tropical areas of west and central Africa, can be transmitted by very close contact with an infected person. It is usually mild, with most patients recovering within a few weeks without treatment. However, the disease can prove fatal with the strain causing the current outbreak killing one in 100 infected. It can be transmitted from person to person through close physical contact – as well as sexual intercourse[,]” reports the Daily Mail.
Dr Susan Hopkins, a chief medical adviser to the UK Health Security Agency, told the BBC, “[w]e are detecting more cases on a daily basis and I’d like to thank all of those people who are coming forward for testing to sexual health clinics, to the GPs and emergency department.”
Furthermore, Dr. Hopkins said, “we are finding cases that have no identified contact with an individual from west Africa, which is what we’ve seen previously in this country. The community transmission is largely centred in urban areas and we are predominantly seeing it in individuals who self-identify as gay or bisexual, or other men who have sex with men,” because, she said of “frequent close contacts they may have. We would recommend to anyone who’s having changes in sex partners regularly, or having close contact with individuals that they don’t know, to come forward if they develop a rash.”
ABC News reports five states are investigating suspected cases in the United States: Washington, Utah, Massachusetts, Florida and New York.
This illness is not pretty. It appears to be highly contagious and the “rash” is pretty distinctive. At the same time, it is important to remember that most cases are “mild,” and most people recover without treatment. Are you concerned about monkeypox?