Scientists surprise about the spread of monkeypox in Europe

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The recent outbreak of monkeypox in Africa and its spread to Europe has come as a surprise to scientists who are monitoring the disease.

The disease that has been reported in Britain, Spain, Portugal, Italy, the United States, Sweden and Canada mainly in young men who had never travelled to Africa is formerly seen in people linked to central and west Africa.

According to Oyewale Tomori, a virologist who headed the Nigerian Academy of Sciences, “I am stunned by this. Every day I wake up and see that new countries are being infected. This is not the kind of spread we’ve seen in West Africa, so there may be something new happening in the West.”

Monkeypox usually causes fever, chills, a rash and lesions on the face or genitals. The WHO estimates that the disease is fatal for one in ten people, but smallpox vaccines protect, and some antiviral drugs are also being developed.

According to the WHO, Nigeria reports about 3,000 cases of monkeypox a year. Outbreaks usually occur in rural areas, where people are in close contact with infected rats and squirrels, Oyewale Tomori said. He added that many cases probably go unnoticed.

He hopes that the appearance of monkeypox cases in Europe and other countries will lead to a better scientific understanding of the disease.

Also the head of the WHO’s emergency response, Dr Ibrahima Soce Fall, acknowledged this week that there were still “so many unknowns in terms of transmission dynamics, clinical features (and) epidemiology”.

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