Health alerts communities after detecting eight suspected cases of monkeypox

The Minister of Health, Carolina Darias. / EFE

The United Kingdom and Portugal have already confirmed cases of this disease, which affects men who have sex with other men.

Alvaro Soto

New health alert in Spain and Europe. The Ministry of Health has asked the autonomous communities to be attentive to possible outbreaks of monkeypox after finding eight suspected cases in Madrid. According to El País, the National Center for Microbiology (CNM) is analyzing samples to confirm that it is this disease, which has registered cases in several countries in recent days.

The voice of alarm was given by the United Kingdom two days ago, when it reported an outbreak with seven people affected. All of them are men who have had relationships with other men, although there is no epidemiological link between them, which points to the existence of different chains of infection.

"We believe there may be community transmission of this disease and we especially urge gay and bisexual men to be vigilant for any unusual rashes or lesions and to contact a sexual health service without delay," explains Susan Hopkins, consultant of the United Kingdom Health Security Agency (UKHSA). In any case, the agency reminds that "the virus does not spread easily between people and the risk to the population of the United Kingdom is low."

As detailed by the UKSHA, monkeypox is a viral infection that is commonly associated with travelers who have visited West Africa. It is usually a mild, self-limited illness, spread by very close contact with someone with monkeypox, and most people recover within a few weeks.

The initial symptoms of monkeypox are similar to those of smallpox, although somewhat milder. They include fever, headache, muscle aches, back pain, swollen lymph nodes, chills, and exhaustion. A rash may appear, usually starting on the face and then spreading to other parts of the body, including the genitals. The rash changes and goes through different stages, and can resemble chickenpox or syphilis, before eventually forming a scab, which then falls off.

The Professor of Microbiology at the University of Salamanca Raúl Rivas González explains that the disease was discovered for the first time in 1958, when two outbreaks of a disease similar to smallpox occurred in colonies of monkeys kept for research work, although the first human case of monkeypox was reported in August 1970 in Bokenda, a remote village in the equatorial province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

In an article published in 'The Conversation', Rivas details that transmission occurs "through saliva or respiratory excretions, or by contact with the exudate of the lesion or the material of the scab", or also through feces.

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