UK, Spain, Portugal report more monkeypox cases

Monkeypox rash on palm of hands
Monkeypox rash on palm of hands

CDC / Brian W. J. Mahy

Spain and Portugal are reporting what could be dozens of monkeypox cases, as the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) confirmed two more cases today, bringing the UK total to nine cases since May 6.

More UK cases in MSM

The possibility of community spread is growing more likely in the United Kingdom, as recent cases have no travel history to a country where the virus is endemic. The most recent cases have also been seen in men who have sex with men (MSM).

Though monkeypox is not known to be sexually transmitted, it can be passed through close, personal contact, and via the clothing and linens that have been used by a person with monkeypox.

"These latest cases, together with reports of cases in countries across Europe, confirms our initial concerns that there could be spread of monkeypox within our communities," said UKHSA Chief Medical Adviser Susan Hopkins, MD, in a press release. "We are particularly urging men who are gay and bisexual to be aware of any unusual rashes or lesions and to contact a sexual health service without delay if they have concerns."

Monkeypox cases are typically mild, but they can progress to more severe symptoms and even be fatal. Symptoms usually begin with fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion, with a rash developing on the face and then spreading to other parts of the body.

Suspected cases in Spain climb to 23

Health officials in Madrid, Spain, confirmed today that 23 people have symptoms compatible with a monkeypox diagnosis. And though cases have not been confirmed, a nationwide alert has been issued.

"Monkeypox is spread by respiratory transmission, but the characteristics of the 23 suspected cases point towards transmission through mucus during sexual relations," the Madrid regional health department said, according to the UK Guardian newspaper.

All suspected cases in Spain involve men, are isolating at home, and are doing well.

Epidemiologist Fernando Simón Soria, MD, who heads Spain's health emergencies center, said although it's unlikely monkeypox will spread significantly, "that can’t be ruled out."

Portugal confirms 5 cases, probes 15 others

In neighboring Portugal, 5 cases have been confirmed in men, and officials were investigating another 15 suspected cases, all located in or near Lisbon. None of the men had recent travel to Africa, nor close contact with cases in the United Kingdom.

All the cases involve men, most of them young, Portuguese officials said. They have skin lesions and were reported to be in stable condition.

Authorities with the country's General Directorate for Health did not say if the men had a history of travel to Africa or any links with recent cases in the United Kingdom or elsewhere.

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