The World Health Organization has said there are at least 80 confirmed monkeypox cases (and 50 suspected infections) in 12 countries and warned that more cases are likely to be reported as surveillance and testing expands. The WHO said cases so far are 'atypical' of a viral disease normally endemic to animal populations in parts of west and central Africa with only occasional outbreaks among locals and travellers. Cases now have been reported in major European countries and Canada, the United States and Australia, raising concerns of an outbreak even as the world deals with the Covid-19 pandemic.
Which countries have monkeypox cases?
Switzerland has reported its first case - the canton of Bern (one of 26 forming the Swiss federation) said a monkeypox case was confirmed after a lab analysis of a sample Saturday afternoon, Reuters reported.
Spain has 31 confirmed cases, 24 of which were reported Friday. Several of the cases are in the Madrid region and officials have shut down a sauna that has been linked to many of the infections. According to Reuters, in Spain the word 'sauna' describes establishments popular with gay men looking for sex rather than a bathhouse. There are 18 suspected cases - 15 in the Madrid area, two in the Canary Islands and one in the Andalusian province, authorities said.
Portugal has 23 confirmed cases. The national health authority said all patients are under clinical follow-up but none have been hospitalised so far and are in stable condition, Reuters reported.
The Netherlands reported its first case Friday and the government's health agency has warned of more infections. Dutch health authorities are bracing for several more cases to be reported.
Israel is tracking a possible monkeypox case - a 30-year-old man who has recently returned from a western European nation and is displaying symptoms consistent with the disease. He is in stable condition, The Times of Israel said.
Germany also detected its first case - a man in the Bavarian region had the characteristic skin lesions - Friday, German news agency Deutsche Welle said; the country's armed forces medical service has called the rash of cases 'the largest and most widespread outbreak of monkeypox ever seen in Europe'.
Belgium has three confirmed cases and all have been linked to a gay fetish festival in the port city of Antwerp, AFP reported. Belgium's three cases lead to further concern that the virus is spreading rapidly among gay and bisexual men; the WHO has already issued a warning in this regard.
The United Kingdom has at least 20 confirmed cases. Health secretary Sajid Javed on Friday said 'most cases' were mild and that the UK is stockpiling smallpox vaccines (as is Spain) that offer a degree of protection against monkeypox. The UK Health Security Agency has also said that a notable number of cases in Britain have been found among gay and bisexual men.
The first case in France was a 29-year-old man from the Ile-de-France region, which includes Paris. Health authorities said he had not recently been in a nation where the virus is spreading.
The United States still has only one case - a Massachusetts man who had returned from Canada. A second possible case - in New York City - is being tracked. A senior Biden administration official told Reuters more cases are likely over the next few days but the risk to the general public remains low.
Italy has three confirmed cases so far, two of which were reported from the same hospital in Rome and are believed to be related to the first reported case, who had recently returned from Spain's Canary Islands. A doctor from the Rome hospital - which specialises in infectious diseases - indicated many of Europe's cases were the result of human-to-human transmission.
Sweden has one confirmed case at this time.
Canada has five confirmed cases, Global News reported Friday. Three of these are in Quebec and the Public Health Agency of Canada is investigating at least two dozen other suspected cases. Monkeypox has never previously been detected in the country.
Australia reported its first case Friday - a man in his 30s in Melbourne who had recently returned from the UK. A second case is suspected in a Sydney man in his 40s who had travelled to Europe. Both men had mild illness with symptoms clinically compatible with monkeypox, health officials said.
With input from AFP, Reuters