Public health officials reported additional cases of monkey pox in European countries in July. At least 6,218 suspected cases have occurred from May 31 to July 6, of which 6,214 have been confirmed. Suspected cases have been identified in Italy, France and Belgium. The risk to the wider population is considered low.
Most cases of this outbreak have occurred in Spain (1,444 cases), Germany (1,385 cases) and the UK (1,395 cases), according to data through July 6. Detailed location information remains limited as disease monitoring and contact tracing continue; Additional affected countries may be identified in the coming weeks.
Many of the cases in this outbreak report attending one or more recent mass rallies in Antwerp, Madrid and Gran Canaria, Spain; mass gatherings always carry an increased risk of infectious diseases. Human-to-human transmission occurs among people who have close physical contact, with the increase in recent cases linked to sexual contact, suggesting that the virus linked to the disease can be transmitted sexually. The current outbreak highlights the importance of vigilant safe sexual practices and suggests that monkeypox can be transmitted while the infected person shows few or no symptoms; however, the risk is currently estimated to be low for individuals who do not routinely interact with multiple or anonymous sexual partners.
Monkeypox does not occur naturally in Europe; most cases are reported in West and Central Africa, primarily in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria and Cameroon, among individuals reporting contact with wild rodents or other mammals that may harbor the disease.
Monkeypox is caused by a virus that belongs to the same family as the virus that causes smallpox. However, monkeypox is not the same as smallpox and does not have the same capacity for rapid human-to-human transmission. Monkeypox is mainly transmitted to humans through direct contact with the bodily fluids of infected rodents or primates. Human-to-human transmission occurs primarily through close personal contact with an infected person via respiratory droplets, direct contact with bodily fluids, or indirect contact with lesion material – for example, contaminated clothing or bedding. Symptoms usually appear 6-16 days after exposure, but can develop up to 21 days after exposure. Symptoms generally include fever, headache, muscle and back pain, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion, and a signature rash characterized by lesions that go through several stages before falling off.
Practice basic health precautions, including washing hands regularly with soap and water, covering nose and mouth when coughing, and avoiding obviously ill individuals. Avoid crowded areas such as nightclubs and consider using safe sexual practices such as physical barriers (condoms) in countries reporting monkeypox transmission. Seek medical attention if symptoms develop within two weeks of being in the affected areas, especially if you’ve had one or more new sexual partners.
US CDC: Monkeypox Fact Sheet