Germany, France and Belgium on Friday confirmed their first cases of monkeypox, becoming the latest European countries where the disease has spread.
The German case was registered in Bavaria on Thursday, according to the Bundeswehr Institute of Microbiology in Munich. The patient exhibited symptoms of skin lesions, a major characteristic of the disease.
Following the announcement, German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said it was only a "matter of time" before monkeypox was discovered in Germany. He expressed confidence that the outbreak could be contained if action is taken quickly.
The French case was detected in a 29-year-old man in the Ile-de-France region, which includes Paris.
The Belgian case was found in the northern Dutch-speaking region of Flanders.
What is monkeypox?
The monkeypox virus originated in Africa, where it was first identified in monkeys. The first human case was confirmed in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1970, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The virus is composed of two main strains. One is the Congo strain, which results in more severe disease and has up to a 10% mortality rate. The other is the West African strain, which has a much lower fatality rate of 1%.
Monkeypox symptoms tend to be milder than those of smallpox. It includes fever, headache, muscle aches, and exhaustion, but monkeypox also causes lymph nodes to swell (lymphadenopathy) while smallpox does not, according to the CDC.
The virus can be transmitted from person to person through air droplets, close bodily contact or sharing contaminated linens or objects.
Outbreak in Europe and North America
The first case of monkeypox in Europe was confirmed on May 7. The infected person was an individual who returned to England from Nigeria, where monkeypox is endemic.
The disease was then confirmed in Portugal, with 14 cases, all young males. Spain has reported seven confirmed cases, while one case has since been reported in Sweden and Italy, respectively, DW reports.
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