In conjunction with the announcement of three deaths in the old continent and Brazil, the European Office of the World Health Organization warned that more deaths associated with monkeypox could be expected, stressing that serious complications of the disease are still rare.
“As monkeypox continues to spread in Europe, we expect to see more deaths,” Catherine Smallwood, WHO’s chief emergency officer for Europe, said in a statement.
Smallwood stressed that the goal should be “to stop transmission quickly in Europe and stop the outbreak,” but she stressed nevertheless that in most cases patients recover without the need for treatment.
Smallwood noted: “Reporting monkeypox deaths does not change our assessment of the outbreak in Europe. We know that although it resolves on its own in most cases, monkeypox can cause serious complications.”
Spain and Brazil had announced, with a small difference between Friday and Saturday, the first three deaths outside Africa of people infected with monkeypox, without knowing whether the virus was the cause of these deaths.
This brings the number of deaths recorded globally since May to eight, after the first five deaths were reported in Africa, where the disease is endemic and was first discovered in humans in 1970.
In Spain, the Ministry of Health reported, on Saturday, the second death linked to monkeypox, a day after the announcement of what is believed to be the first death linked to the outbreak currently in Europe.
“Out of 3750 patients, 120 were transferred to the hospital and two died,” the ministry said in a report, without specifying the date of the second death.
She confirmed that the deceased were “two young men”, confirming that analyzes had been conducted to collect more “epidemiological information” regarding the two cases.
In Brazil, a 41-year-old man infected with the virus died Thursday in Belo Horizonte in the southeast of the country, the Health Secretariat of the State of Minas Gerais announced Friday, explaining that “he was hospitalized due to other serious medical conditions.”
“It is important to emphasize that he had serious comorbidities, so as not to cause panic among the people. Mortality (related to this disease) is still very low,” said Minas Gerais Health Minister Fabio Baqueriti, explaining that the patient was undergoing treatment for cancer.
The Brazilian Ministry of Health has recorded about 1,000 cases of monkeypox, most of them in the southeastern states of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.
A global health emergency
On July 24, the World Health Organization declared the highest level of alert, an international public health emergency, to step up control of monkeypox also known as orthopoxvirus simian.
According to the World Health Organization, more than 18,000 cases of monkeypox have been recorded worldwide since the beginning of May outside the endemic areas of Africa.
The first symptoms of the disease are high temperature, swollen lymph nodes and a rash resembling chicken pox.
And the Director of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, announced, on Wednesday, that the disease has been reported in 78 countries, and that 70% of cases are concentrated in Europe and 25% in the Americas.
About 10% of cases require hospitalization to try to relieve the patients’ pain. In most cases, the patients are young men who have sex with men and live mainly in cities.
On Wednesday, the World Health Organization clearly recommended that the group most at risk of the disease reduce the number of sexual partners.
The Director-General of the Organization during a press conference in Geneva that the best way to protect “is to reduce the risk of exposure” to the disease.
Monkeypox is currently considered a sexually transmitted disease, and anyone can contract it, while direct skin-to-skin contact as well as infected sheets or clothing are transmission factors.
The World Health Organization also strongly emphasizes the need to avoid any stigma for a particular group of the population so that its members do not have to hide the disease rather than seek treatment and then the disease will continue to spread.
Currently, the World Health Organization stresses that no vaccines are available for everyone and therefore recommends that priority be given to those most at risk, the sick, and those treating or researching the disease.
Tedros warned that: “It is important to emphasize that vaccination does not immediately prevent infection or disease and this may take several weeks,” and then after vaccination, precautions should continue to be taken.
The vaccination is carried out in two doses, separated by at least 28 days. As for people who were vaccinated against smallpox in childhood, one dose is sufficient, while a third dose is recommended for those who are immunocompromised.
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