After Britain issued a virus alert for Europe, Portuguese authorities announced on Wednesday that they had detected five cases of the rare monkeypox infection, and Spanish health services are testing eight probable points.
Five Portuguese patients out of twenty suspected instances are in good health. According to the Portuguese health authorities, they are all guys who reside in the Lisbon and Tagus Valley regions.
Since Britain reported its first case of monkeypox on May 7 and detected six more cases in the country since then, European health authorities are watching any potential outbreak.
As of Wednesday, none of the eight suspected cases in Spain have been confirmed, according to the Spanish Ministry of Health statement.
Monkeypox is a rare viral infection identical to human smallpox, albeit milder, initially documented in the 1970s in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In the past decade, the number of cases in West Africa has grown.
Fever, headaches, and rashes that begin on the face and progress to the rest of the body are symptoms.
According to Spanish health authorities, it is not highly contagious among humans, and most infected individuals recover within a few weeks, although severe cases have been observed.
The disease may spread through sexual contact, say officials
The U.K. Health Security Agency stated that four of the cases diagnosed in Britain self-identified as gay, bisexual, or other males who have sex with men. That evidence suggested there may be a transmission within the community.
The British agency recommended homosexual and bisexual men report any strange sores or rashes to a sexual health facility as soon as possible.
The Spanish Health Ministry and Portugal's DGS health authority did not share any information regarding the sexual orientation of suspected or confirmed monkeypox patients.
The two nations issued alerts to health experts to detect additional potential cases.
Dr. Ibrahim Soce Fall, assistant director-general for emergency response at the World Health Organization, stated that the transmission of monkeypox among males who have sex with other men in the United Kingdom must be explored.
Even in nations where monkeypox is endemic, according to Fall, health officials still require a better understanding of how the disease spreads.
Last year, there were more than 6,000 documented cases in Congo and approximately 3,000 cases in Nigeria, but there are still "so many unknowns in terms of the dynamics of transmission."
The United Kingdom previously reported three cases of monkeypox, two of which were members of the same household and the third involving a traveler to Nigeria, where the disease is prevalent in animals.
Typically, infected animals, such as rats, transmit the virus to humans. However, human-to-human transmission has been documented.
The disease is transmitted between humans through direct contact with lesions, body fluids, respiratory droplets, or contaminated objects like bedsheets.
Some British scientists stated that it was too soon to conclude that monkeypox had been transmitted through sexual contact, even though the outbreak in the country implied the potential.
Vaccines are authorized, and antivirals appear effective
Neil Mabbott, a disease expert from the University of Edinburgh, said, "The recent cases suggest a potentially novel means of spread," adding that related viruses were known to transmit through sexual contact.
Keith Neal, an expert on infectious illnesses at the University of Nottingham, speculated that the transmission may not have been the result of sexual contact but rather "the close contact associated with sexual intercourse."
Like smallpox, monkeypox often produces fever, chills, a rash, and lesions on the face or genitals.
Vaccination against smallpox has been licensed for monkeypox, and several antiviral medications appear beneficial.