England, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Canada, USA: Clusters of locally acquired monkeypox cases, as of 20.5.2022

20 May 2022

In the beginning of May 2022, one case of monkeypox was detected in England, which had occurred after travel to Nigeria. In the course of this, 6 further cases of monkeypox were diagnosed in England in people with no previous travel and no contact with known travel-associated cases. These are two cases in one family and four cases in men who have sex with men (MSM). The latter apparently got infected in London. Apart from the family and two of the MSM cases, there are no known links between the cases. Further 2 cases have been reported in the meantime. Investigations into the sources of infection and other suspected cases are in progress.

Additional cases are reported by GeoSentinel and various media reports from the following countries:

 

Description: Monkeypox is a zoonosis caused by an orthopoxvirus, a DNA virus genetically related to the variola and vaccinia viruses. Monkeypox is endemic in West and Central Africa. Increased cases have been recorded in Nigeria since September 2017, and imports by returning travellers to England and the USA have also been recorded more frequently in recent years. There are two types of monkeypox virus: the West African type and the Central African type (Congo Basin).

Transmission: Monkeypox is transmitted from infected animals by a bite or by direct contact with blood, body fluids or lesions of the infected animal. It can be transmitted via abrasions in the mouth to people who eat infected animals. It can also be transmitted from person to person via the respiratory tract, through direct contact with body fluids of an infected person or with virus-contaminated objects. The incubation period is 5-21 days, usually about 7 to 17 days.

Symptoms: Symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headache, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes and chills. 1- 3 days after the onset of symptoms, a rash develops that may look like chickenpox or syphilis and spreads from the face to other parts of the body, including the genitals. The disease is usually mild. In immunocompromised individuals, the disease can be severe. The mortality rate is about 1% for the West African type and up to 10% for the Central African type.

 

For further details, see WHO factsheet, ECDC and CDC.