The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) reported today on monkeypox transmission in Europe:
Transmission to humans can occur through contact with an infected animal or human, or with human bodily material containing the virus. Transmission between humans mostly occurs through large respiratory droplets. As droplets cannot travel far, prolonged face-to-face contact is needed. The virus can also enter the body through bodily fluids, lesion material, or indirect contact with lesion material.
Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion. A rash typically develops. This often begins on the face, and then spreads to other parts of the body including the genitals. Of note, the recently detected cases among MSM have reported a preponderance of lesions in the genital area. The rash goes through different stages, and can look like chickenpox or syphilis, before finally forming a scab, which later falls off. The difference in appearance from chickenpox or syphilis is the uniform evolution of the lesions. The incubation period is typically 6 to 16 days but can be up to 21. When the scab falls off a person is no longer infectious.
Since 2018, there have been 7 cases of monkeypox reported in the UK (in 2021, 2019 and 2018), mainly with travel history to endemic countries. However, the this is the first time that chains of transmission are reported in Europe without known epidemiological links to West and Central Africa. These are also the first cases worldwide reported among MSM. The monkeypox virus is considered to have moderate transmissibility among humans. In this event, transmission between sexual partners, due to intimate contact during sex with infectious skin lesions seems the likely mode of transmission among MSM. Given the unusually high frequency of human-to-human transmission observed in this event, and the probable community transmission without history of traveling to endemic areas, the likelihood of further spread of the virus through close contact, for example during sexual activities, is considered to be high. The likelihood of transmission between individuals without close contact is considered to be low.
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