France, Germany and Belgium confirmed their first cases of the monkeypox virus on Friday, joining European nations Spain, Italy, Portugal and Sweden, and Canada, Australia and the United States in reporting a disease endemic to parts of Africa.
French authorities said a 29-year-old had tested positive.
Belgian experts said two cases – in two different cities – had been detected.
Spain reported 14 new cases today to take its cumulative caseload to 21.
Here are the top 10 points in this big story:
- The French monkeypox patient is from the country's Ile-de-France region, which includes Paris. He had not, however, recently returned from a country where the virus is circulating, France's health authorities said Friday.
- In Belgium, Flemish broadcaster VRTNWS said both patients were at the same party in an undisclosed location. The first person was diagnosed in Antwerp (not the place of residence) but is not seriously ill; the individual and their partner have been isolated. The second case is a man from the Flemish Brabant region. He too is not seriously ill, AFP said citing Belgian media reports.
- The first case from Germany was reported by Reuters, which quoted Focus, a German-language news magazine that, in turn, cited German military.
- Spanish authorities reported 14 confirmed cases on Friday, taking the total number to 21. There are another 20 suspected cases – 19 in the central region of Madrid and one in the Canary Islands, Reuters quoted health authorities.
- The US' Centers for Disease Control is tracking six more possible monkeypox cases. All were in close contact with a fellow traveller – on a flight from Nigeria to the United Kingdom earlier this month – who has shown symptoms.
- The US this week reported its first case in 2022 – a Massachusetts man who recently travelled to Canada in April and returned this month. Last year, Texas and Maryland each reported a case in people who had travelled to Nigeria.
- Canada has two confirmed cases so far. However, authorities in Quebec province are investigating 17 suspected cases. Italy and Sweden have each reported one monkeypox case.
- Australian authorities on Friday said they had identified a probable case of monkeypox in a traveller from Europe, with confirmatory testing underway.
- Portugal has 14 cases so far, with 20 others being monitored. A spokesperson for the country's public health group on monkeypox told Reuters "the health authority… is worried" and stressed the need to break transmission chains.
- The United Kingdom has nine confirmed cases since 6 May. The UK Health Security Agency has warned gay and bisexual men, urging them to 'be aware of any unusual rashes or lesions'. The World Health Organisation this week said: "We are seeing transmission among men having sex with men."
What is monkeypox?
Monkeypox is usually a mild viral infection with symptoms that include fever, headaches and skin rashes. It originates in wild animals like rodents and primates, and then spreads to people.
There are two main variants – the Congo strain, which has up to 10% mortality, and the West African strain, which has a fatality rate of 1%.
The virus belongs to the same family as the smallpox.