Monkeypox – Belgium

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May 24, 2022 – Cases of monkeypox have been reported in Belgium and Spain. The source suspects that the outbreak is due to exposure to the virus in two major public festivals. Three cases have been detected in Belgium with origin suspected to trace back to the Darklans festival in Antrwerp from May 5 – 8, 2022. The cases in Spain is suspected to be linked to a ‘sauna event’ in Madrid. No deaths have been reported.

As many visitors and residence attended these festivals, officials are looking into whether this outbreak is linked to visitors attending the festival rather than residents. Festivals tend to be heavily populated which raises the risk of close contact and exposure. And the virus has spread to other countries such as Italy and the UK, which draws clues to the outbreak being travel-related. Internationally, there are a total of 172 confirmed cases of monkeypox. Vaccines and alert systems are being rolled-out to address the outbreak.

Photo: Smallpox virus, a close relative of Monkeypox – Electron micrograph.

Monkeypox is a rare viral disease that mostly occurs in Central and West Africa. The disease is similar to smallpox and involves blistered skin but it is often milder. Humans can be infected by an animal via a bite, or by direct contact with an infected animal’s bodily fluids. The virus can also spread from human to human, by respiratory (airborne) contact or by contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids.

The smallpox vaccine can protect against monkeypox.

The virus was first identified in 1958 among laboratory monkeys. The first cases in humans were found in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

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