The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has reported the region’s first case of monkeypox.
The Czech Republic and Slovenia both reported their first cases of the virus on Tuesday, joining 18 other countries in identifying it outside of its customary African home. This figure is expected to rise significantly, however, experts warn the overall risk to the general public remains low.
Outbreaks of the virus have occurred in Europe, Australia, and the United States. Although fever and rash are common symptoms, the sickness is usually minimal.
According to UAE health officials, a case was discovered in a traveler who recently visited West Africa and is currently seeking medical attention.
Authorities claim they are “fully equipped” to deal with any epidemic and have early detection procedures in place for the disease. The World Health Organization (WHO) believes that with the right strategy, the virus can be contained in nations other than Africa.
“We advise you all to strengthen monkeypox surveillance to detect where transmission levels are and where it is moving,” said Sylvie Briand, the WHO’s head for Global Infectious Hazard Preparedness, during a conference on Tuesday.
She stressed that while the outbreaks were not normal, they were nonetheless treatable.
Outside of Africa, there are now 237 confirmed and suspected cases of monkeypox, and health officials around the world have proclaimed measures to control the epidemic. In case the outbreak worsens, Germany has ordered up to 40,000 doses of the Imvanex vaccine, which is designed to treat smallpox but also works against monkeypox.
According to German health officials, anyone who had a smallpox vaccine years ago as part of a global attempt to eradicate the disease should be immune. They added, however, that the previous treatment had greater side effects and is hence no longer suitable for treating monkeypox today.
Officials in France, where three cases have been identified, are planning a targeted vaccination programme for adults who have recently been exposed. Authorities recommend that a vaccine be given within four days of exposure, although it can be given up to 14 days later if necessary.
On Tuesday, officials in England announced the discovery of 14 new cases of the virus, bringing the total number of cases in the UK to 71. Travel to Central or West Africa is often connected with monkeypox, however, rare cases that have occurred outside of these countries have had no link to travel.
It does not spread easily among people, however, it can be transmitted by: touching monkeypox skin blisters or scabs, coughing or sneezing of a person with the monkeypox rash.
The first signs of monkeypox usually appear between five and 21 days after infection. Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, enlarged lymph nodes, chills, and weariness.
A rash may develop, typically beginning on the face and spreading to other parts of the body. Similar to chickenpox, the rash evolves and progresses through numerous stages before forming a scab that eventually falls off.