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Monkeypox: What do we know about the outbreaks in Europe and North America?

BMJ 2022; 377 doi: (Published 20 May 2022) Cite this as: BMJ 2022;377:o1274
  1. Elisabeth Mahase
  1. The BMJ

Monkeypox, a virus first discovered in monkeys in 1958 and that spread to humans in 1970, is now being seen in small but rising numbers in Western Europe and North America. Elisabeth Mahase summarises what we know so far

How many cases have been confirmed?

Case numbers seem to be rising daily though are still low. In England 20 cases were confirmed between 6 and 20 May.1 Meanwhile, Spain has reported 23 potential but unconfirmed cases, and Portugal has confirmed five of its 20 suspected cases.2 One case in the US has been confirmed.3

How is it spreading?

Transmission between people mostly occurs through large respiratory droplets, normally meaning prolonged contact face to face. But the virus can also spread through bodily fluids. The latest cases have mainly been among men who have sex with men.

The UK Health Security Agency said that, although monkeypox has not previously been described as a sexually transmitted infection, …

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