This 1971 Center for Disease Control Handout photo shows Monkeypox-like sores on a girl’s arm and leg in Bandua, Liberia.
CDC | Getty Images
Belgium has become the first country to introduce mandatory 21-day quarantine for monkeypox patients. The disease – usually native to Africa – has spread around the world.
Belgian health authorities launched the measure on Friday after reporting a third case of the virus. As of Monday, four local cases have been recorded in the country; Confirmed worldwide infections are currently close to 100.
The Belgian mandatory system only applies to patients with a certain infection. Close acquaintances do not need to be isolated, but caution is encouraged, especially when in contact with vulnerable individuals.
A translated version of the official announcement said, “Infected people will have to go through communication until the injury has healed (they will receive specific instructions from the treating physician).”
The United Kingdom, meanwhile, has said that those most at risk of contracting the disease should be isolated for 21 days. This includes family contacts or medical professionals who have come in contact with infected patients.
What is a monkeypox?
Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by the monkeypox virus – part of the smallpox family – with symptoms including rash, fever, headache, muscle aches, swelling and back pain.
Although usually less severe than smallpox, health experts are concerned about the recent outbreak that began in early May in countries outside Central and West Africa.
Health authorities, including the US Center for Disease Control and Infection and the UK’s Health Security Agency, say they have noticed a significant increase in the number of men who have sex with men, and urge gay and bisexual men in particular to be aware of any unusual phenomena. Rash or sores
As of Saturday, the World Health Organization said there were 92 cases in 12 countries and 28 more suspected cases were under investigation. The United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Belgium, Portugal, and the Netherlands have all sued.
This Center for Disease Control and Prevention handout graphic, May 27, 2003, shows symptoms in a patient’s first known case of the monkeypox virus.
CDC | Getty Images
The public health agency said the recently reported cases had no link to travel from local African countries, which is unusual for the disease. It is usually spread through human-to-human or human-to-animal contact.
“Investigations into the epidemic are ongoing, but there are still no established travel links to local areas in the reported cases,” the WHO said in a statement posted on its website on Saturday.
“Based on the information currently available, cases of men having sex with men for primary care and care in sexual health clinics (MSM) have not been identified, but have been identified exclusively,” it added.
Monkeypox is more likely
Recent growth in communities, especially in urban areas, is now raising concerns of a wider outbreak.
Seth Berkeley, CEO of Global Vaccine Alliance Gavi, told CNBC on Monday: “Now that it is present – there is no clear connection in more than 100 cases in 12 different countries – it means we need to find out exactly what is happening.”
“The truth is we don’t know what it is and so how serious it is going to be. But maybe we’re going to see more cases,” he said.
Although most cases of monkeypox are mild and usually resolve within 2 to 4 weeks, there is currently no proven vaccine. The smallpox vaccine has proven to be 85% effective in preventing infections, and some countries have already begun stockpiling doses.
Berkeley warned that new outbreaks were occurring although the existing coronavirus epidemic was “not over yet” as a warning to authorities to invest more resources in infectious diseases. He was speaking on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, where political and business leaders gathered this week on important global issues, including epidemic preparations.
“It’s evolutionarily certain that we’re going to see more outbreaks,” he said. “That’s why epidemic preparedness is so important. See what it can do economically when you are hit by an epidemic.”