Monkeypox Reported in More Countries - Update
As expected, more suspected and confirmed cases of monkeypox have been reported by more countries. The index case (first case) was first reported in the UK. Because this infection can have a relatively long incubation period (5-21 days), additional cases were expected. Subsequently, Portugal, Spain, the US, and Canada reported small clusters of patients. Germany, Belgium, Sweden and France are the latest countries to report one or several possible cases. Not all the reported cases have been confirmed by laboratory testing. Globally, the total number of suspected and confirmed cases is approximately 55.
Intensive epidemiological investigations are underway to identify linkages between cases and to determine the extent of the spread of the virus. The monkeypox strain in the reported cases is the milder variant of this virus.
Travellers are at low risk of exposure since monkeypox is a relatively rare disease caused by a virus that is closely related to the smallpox virus. Infection with monkeypox is not as serious as smallpox, but human deaths have occurred. The virus is transmitted by the bite of infected rodents or from person to person through respiratory or direct contact with an infected person.
The symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headache, muscle aches, backaches, swollen lymph nodes and a fluid filled rash, starting on the face. Eventually, the rash becomes crusty and the scabs will fall off. The illness usually lasts for 2 to 4 weeks.
Preventive measures include washing hands often and avoiding contact with wild animals and products made from wild animals. Furthermore, international travelers should also avoid contact with people who are sick.
Recently, a new vaccine called JYNNEOS (IMVANEX, IMVAMUNE) was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for use in people who may be at high risk of exposure to this infection. However, it is available only from authorized providers and limited to adults 18 years of age and older.