Monkeypox outbreak: Global cases rise to more than 550

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More than 550 monkeypox cases have been identified in at least 30 countries, the World Health Organization said on June 1. Monkeypox is a viral disease native to Africa. Symptoms of the disease include skin lesions, fever, and body aches. Some recent cases of monkeypox have involved men who have had sex with men, however, experts say the disease is not a sexually transmitted infection but can spread via direct contact during sex.

This is a developing story. We will provide updates as more information becomes available. On the heels of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, a zoonotic virus seems to be spreading across the globe. Since early May, MonkeypoxTrusted Source has been making headway across at least 30 countries, including the United Kingdom, Spain, Portugal, Australia, and the United States. The number of cases has increased to more than 550 worldwide as of June 1, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

In the U.K., nearly 200 monkeypox cases have been confirmed since May 7. During a press conference on May 17Trusted Source, WHO officials said that these are mostly separate occurrences except for “a family cluster with two confirmed cases and one probable case[…].” Recently, Canada and the U.S. joined these nations in tracking and tracing the virus. As of May 19, Canada confirmed two monkeypox cases and said it was investigating more than a dozen suspected cases. The Massachusetts Department of Health also announced a single case in an individual who had recently been in Canada. Several Canadian cases have been linked to this person.

On May 18, Scott Pauley, press officer at the Centers for Disease Control and PreventionTrusted Source (CDC), told Medical News Today: “The U.K. notified the U.S. of 8 people in the U.S. who might have been seated near the U.K. traveler when they flew from Nigeria to London [on May 3-4, 2022]. Of these, one is no longer in the U.S., and one was not a contact. The remaining six are being monitored by their respective state health departments. None of these six travel contacts have monkeypox symptoms and their risk of infection is very low.”

The WHO officials have been tracking monkeypox’s path through Europe and North America for several weeks. However, with the data available so far, they do not know long the virus has been spreading. On May 30, the agency said during a public webinarTrusted Source that while it cannot rule out the risk, it is unlikely the outbreak will turn into a global pandemic. Monkeypox is a zoonotic virus, which transmits disease from animals to humans. Cases typically occur near tropical rainforests, where animals that carry the virus live.

The monkeypox virus is a member of the orthopoxvirus family. The Congo Basin clade is known to spread more easily and cause more severe symptoms.

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