HEALTH officials in Spain are investigating eight cases of what is believed to be monkeypox – a rare viral infection related to smallpox – and have issued a nationwide health alert.

Fernando Simon, Spain’s director of the Centre for the Coordination of Health Alerts and Emergencies, stated on Tuesday at a meeting in Valencia that ‘although it is not likely that monkeypox will generate a significant transmission, it cannot be ruled out’.

Spain’s chief epidemiologist who rose to fame during the coronavirus therefore stressed that great care must be taken and extreme surveillance protocol would be initiated to investigate all the hypotheses about the routes of contagion.

A nationwide alert issued through the Early Warning and Rapid Response System would ensure utmost monitoring of contagion and cases across different health authorities in Spain.

“Monkeypox is not considered particularly contagious between people. In general, transmission from person to person is limited,” said a report from Spain’s Health Ministry.

While a report from Madrid health chief Enrique Ruiz Escudero said the eight possible cases detected in Madrid were ‘all men who have had sexual relations with men’ suggesting contagion maybe through bodily fluids.

Earlier this month the first cases were confirmed in England beginning with a man who had recently flown into the UK from Nigeria.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said of the seven cases so far detected in England, ‘all appear to have been infected in London and all self-identify as gay, bisexual, or men who have sex with men.’

Monkeypox legions. Photo: WHO/Nigeria Centre for Disease Control

Monkeypox symptoms usually begin with a mix of fever, headaches, muscle aches, backache, chills, exhaustion, and swollen lymph nodes.

This latter symptom is typically what helps doctors distinguish monkeypox from chickenpox or smallpox, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), which said the virus typically causes death in one in ten cases.

The key feature of monkeypox is a rash of nasty lesions which tend to develop between one to three days after the onset of fever, often starting on the face before spreading across the body.


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