Cases of the ‘very unusual’ disease have been confirmed in Italy and Sweden

The US and European countries like Spain, Portugal, the UK, Italy, and Sweden confirmed cases of monkeypox, a rare African disease, this Thursday.

Doctors at Spallanzani hospital in Rome said they had diagnosed one person with monkeypox after his return from a trip to the Canary Islands. Two more cases are suspected, but not confirmed, according to reports by Reuters and the Italian daily newspaper La Repubblica.

Meanwhile, Sweden has confirmed a case of monkeypox in the Stockholm region, according to a Swedish Public Health Agency press statement.

“The person in Sweden who has been confirmed to be infected with the virus is not seriously ill, but has received care,” Swedish health official Klara Sondén said in the statement. “We do not yet know where the person became infected,” she said, adding that the investigation is ongoing to determine the extent of the “very unusual” disease.

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Swedish health officials say they reported the case to the World Health Organization (WHO) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). Symptoms of the disease include lesions, fever, headaches, muscle aches, backaches, swollen lymph nodes, chills, and exhaustion. Skin problems due to monkeypox are “often reported as localized to the genitals, groin and the skin around the anal opening,” the Public Health Agency of Sweden said on Wednesday.

The ECDC notes the “unusually high frequency of human-to-human transmission” observed in recently confirmed and suspected cases reported in Spain, Portugal, and the UK. It says “the likelihood of further spread of the virus through close contact, for example during sexual activities, is considered to be high,” and that “intimate contact during sex with infectious skin lesions seems the likely mode of transmission.” The likelihood of transmission in the absence of close contact is considered to be low.

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