New infectious disease sweeping the UK and US ‘monkey smallpox’… “Homosexual men are mostly infected”

Found in Portugal, Spain, Canada, etc.

A patient with monkeypox in Congo, Africa from 1996 to 1997. /Photo = Yonhap News

[아시아경제 나예은 기자] A rare infectious disease ‘monkeypox’, mainly found in Africa, has been found in Europe and the United States, showing signs of community spread.

According to the British Guardian on the 18th (local time), four additional cases of monkeypox were found in the UK and a follow-up investigation began. The UK Health and Safety Agency (UKHSA) Three of the infected people were in London and one was a resident of northeast England, all said to be gay, bisexual or having had sex with the same sex.

The first confirmed case in the UK visited Nigeria last month and recently returned home. Nigeria is a country where monkeypox has become an endemic disease. It is not known how this person came into contact with the virus locally.

In Portugal, 5 cases of monkeypox have been confirmed, and 15 people have suspected symptoms. Portugal’s Ministry of Health said, “There have been cases of ‘ulcerative lesions’ in the UK as well, and we are monitoring the situation nationwide with each European institution.”

In Spain, there were 23 suspected cases in Madrid alone. Spanish authorities said: “Mostly, monkey pox is transmitted through the respiratory tract, but the 23 currently suspected cases may have been transmitted through mucus during sexual contact.”

A man from Massachusetts, USA, who had visited Canada was also confirmed to have contracted monkeypox. Canadian health authorities are also monitoring at least 13 suspected cases.

rhesus monkey. /Photo = AP Yonhap News

The monkey pox virus got its name because it was found in laboratory monkeys with symptoms similar to smallpox, and is mainly found in central and western Africa.

Its existence was first discovered by monkey researchers in 1958, and after the first human infection was confirmed in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1970. Cases of infection have been reported consistently in Central and West Africa, Congo and Nigeria.

The fatality rate of the ‘Western African type’ with mild symptoms is about 1%, and the fatality rate of the ‘Conco Basin type’ with a high probability of severe progression is 10%. Monkey smallpox, recently discovered in Europe, has been identified as a West African type.

The incubation period is usually 1 to 2 weeks, and then flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle pain, back pain, chills, and malaise appear. Afterwards, blisters and scabs form on the skin. In many cases, the lesion spreads throughout the body, including the face and genitals.

Reporter Na Ye-eun

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