Following the discovery of a monkeypox outbreak in Madrid last week, Spain is once again in the grip of a health emergency. The current outbreak was discovered on May 7, but cases have been reported from all over the world since then.
While the outbreak is still in its early stages, authorities must gather as much accurate information on the virus as possible. Susana Guerra, a microbiologist, steps in. She and her colleagues at Madrid’s Autonomous University have been researching viruses similar to monkeypox, with promising results.
She believes that lessons from this outbreak must be learned in order to prevent future outbreaks. “We obviously did not approach this correctly. We must cultivate unwavering empathy in the aftermath of this outbreak. African diseases should worry us because they have the potential to affect us here.”
The monkeypox virus is not new; the first human cases were discovered in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The virus has been isolated in the region since then, with a minor outbreak in the United States in 2003. Authorities are concerned because this is the first time a widespread outbreak outside of Africa has occurred.
Monkeypox, fortunately, is not as contagious as other diseases; human-to-human virus spreads through close contact with the infected person or their clothing.
However, viruses are constantly evolving, as demonstrated by the COVID-19 outbreak, and Guerra is concerned that the current outbreak may indicate that the virus is becoming more transmissible.
“When it comes to close contact, people need to take precautions for prevention,” she said. “Sexually transmitted diseases have been mentioned in some reports, but this is not true. The thing is, you are in close contact when you have those kinds of relationships, but you can also get it by simply being in close contact with someone who is infected.”
The global outbreak has been contained thus far. However, due to the fact that no one knows how the virus spreads, the actual number of infections could be much higher.