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African scientists baffled by spread of Monkeypox in the West

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A section of skin tissue, harvested from a lesion on the skin of a monkey, that had been infected with monkeypox virus

NIGERIA: Scientists who have monitored numerous outbreaks of Monkeypox in Africa say they are baffled by the disease’s recent spread in Europe and North America. Cases of the smallpox-related disease have previously been recorded only among people with links to central and West Africa.

But in the past week, Britain, Spain, Portugal, Italy, the US, Sweden and Canada all reported infections, mostly in young men who had not previously travelled to Africa.

There are about 80 confirmed cases worldwide and 50 more suspected ones, the World Health Organisation said. France, Germany, Belgium and Australia reported their first cases on Friday.

This is not the kind of spread we’ve seen in West Africa, so there may be something new happening in the West,” he said.

Nigerian virologist Oyewale Tomori said “I’m stunned by this. Every day I wake up and there are more countries infected,” said Oyewale Tomori, a virologist who formerly headed the Nigerian Academy of Science and who sits on several WHO advisory boards.

“This is not the kind of spread we’ve seen in West Africa, so there may be something new happening in the West,” he said.

To date, no one has died in the outbreak. Monkeypox typically causes fever, chills, rash and lesions.

WHO estimates the disease is fatal for up to one in 10 people, but smallpox vaccines offer protection and some antiviral drugs are being developed.

British health officials are exploring whether the disease is being sexually transmitted. Health officials have asked doctors and nurses to be on alert for potential cases, but said the risk to the general population is low. The European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention recommended all suspected cases be isolated and that high-risk contacts be offered smallpox vaccine.

Nigeria reports about 3,000 monkeypox cases a year, WHO said. Outbreaks are usually in rural areas, when people have close contact with infected rats and squirrels, Mr Tomori said. He said many cases are likely missed.Dr Ifedayo Adetifa, head of the country’s Centre for Disease Control, said none of the Nigerian contacts of the British patients have developed symptoms and that investigations were ongoing.WHO’s Europe Director Dr Hans Kluge described the outbreak as “atypical”, saying the disease’s appearance in so many countries across the continent suggested that “transmission has been ongoing for some time”. He said most of the European cases are mild. – ABC NEWS

Monday, May 23, 2022 – 01:01

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