Monkeypox is spreading in Europe

Monkeypox is a rare tropical disease identified in 1958 at a Danish monkey research institute – hence the name monkeypox, or in English monkeypox.

The first human case followed in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and since then the disease has cropped up in more Central and West African countries.

A few minor outbreaks have been recorded outside the African continent, but often these were traced to one or more people who had been to Africa and were quickly brought back under control.

The current outbreak in Europe appears to be different.

The first case of the current monkeypox outbreak was recorded in Britain on May 6.

Since then, the number of infections in this country has increased, and other European countries, including the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Portugal, Spain and France, are reporting one or more cases. Cases have also been reported in the US, Canada and Australia.

In all countries it mainly concerns men who have had sex with an infected man.

As of May 21, 2022, 92 cases have been identified outside the African continent, and as more suspected cases are investigated, this figure is expected to rise.

Although the many cases of monkeypox in Europe may indicate a link, this is not yet established. Also, preliminary studies do not indicate that the outbreak is caused by a mutation in the monkeypox virus.

There are two varieties of monkey pox, a West African and a Central African. The variant now spreading in Europe is said to be the mild West African variant, which is fatal in about 1 percent of cases without treatment.

The vesicles usually first appear on the face and abdomen and then spread to other parts of the body, including the nasal mucosa and lungs. Often they are mainly concentrated around the face, arms and legs. Unlike smallpox, the vesicles in monkeypox also occur on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet.

The blisters start as red spots of no more than 1 centimeter in diameter.

After a few days, they swell and become filled with fluid. After that, they also fill with pus, making them feel hard. Then the blisters form ulcers, which itch and hurt.

If the blisters are left alone, the scabs will eventually fall off and heal and the blisters disappear. This usually happens after two to three weeks.

As long as the blisters are present, a person who has monkey pox is contagious.

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