Spain and Portugal have identified about 30 suspected cases of monkeypox, with British authorities finding several cases of the viral infection on Wednesday, officials said, which is rare in Europe.
Health officials point out that some infections in the UK can be transmitted through sexual contact – in this case between homosexual or bisexual men – which would be a new development in understanding the virus.
The World Health Organization said Tuesday it was coordinating with the United Kingdom to investigate the outbreak.
In Portugal, 20 suspected cases of monkeypox have been identified in the Lisbon region – localized in parts of Central and West Africa – the health ministry said in a statement.
“The cases were among all the men, most of them young, who had ulcers,” it added.
In Spain, authorities have identified eight suspected cases of smallpox-like illnesses that “need to be confirmed” through analysis, the health ministry said.
The Spanish and Portuguese health authorities have not released any information on the sexual orientation or suspected cases of monkeypox patients.
Symptoms of monkeypox in humans include sores, fever, muscle aches, and chills. Most people recover from an illness within a few weeks.
Infection is usually through close contact with infected animals such as rats and monkeys and is limited to humans. It has only been fatal in rare cases.
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), a public health protection agency, said on Monday it had identified four new cases after filing three cases in early May.
Four of the additional cases involved men who had sex with men or identified themselves as gay or bisexual, the UKHSA said.
No one has been linked to the three previously confirmed cases, the first of which involved travel from Nigeria, raising fears of an outbreak of the virus.
(This story was not edited by NDTV staff and was automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)