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Monkeypox: first deaths outside of Africa


By M. Cursino

The death of a 41-year-old man in Brazil was the first monkeypox virus death outside of Africa. Soon after, Spain announced two deaths - the first in Europe.

Last week, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the monkeypox outbreak a global health emergency. But infections are usually mild and the risk to the general population is low.

To date, Brazil has reported 1,066 confirmed cases and 513 suspected cases of the virus. Data from the Brazilian Ministry of Health shows that more than 98% of confirmed cases are among men who have sex with men. On Friday, Brazil's health ministry said the victim suffered from lymphoma and a weakened immune system, and "comorbidities exacerbated his condition."

Shortly thereafter, the Spanish Ministry of Health confirmed Europe's first death from the virus, in a patient who suffered from encephalitis. On Saturday, Spanish authorities confirmed a second death linked to monkeypox. The Ministry of Health stated that of the 3,750 cases of monkeypox for whom information is available, 120, or 3.2%, were hospitalized.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 21,148 cases of the disease have been reported worldwide. The monkeypox virus belongs to the same family of viruses as smallpox, although it is much less dangerous and, according to experts, the chance of infection is low. It occurs mainly in remote parts of Central and West Africa, near tropical rainforests.

WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said last week that declaring the outbreak a global health emergency would help speed up vaccine development and measures to contain the spread of the virus. Dr Tedros said the risk of contracting monkeypox is moderate worldwide but high in Europe.

But, he added, "this outbreak can be stopped with the right strategies in the right groups." The WHO is issuing recommendations that it hopes will encourage countries to take action to stop the transmission of the virus and protect those most at risk.


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