The Madrid region has reported 30 confirmed cases of monkeypox and another 45 suspected infections are being studied, according to data provided by the regional Minister of Health, Enrique Ruiz Escudero, who said that work is ongoing to try to locate the chain of transmission.
The thirty cases in Madrid have been confirmed through PCR tests, while the remaining 45 are awaiting sequencing. All those affected are men who are evolving favourably and who are in self-isolation. The infections, according to the initial data, were produced by two transmission chains, one of them related to a sauna in the capital city that has already been closed.
Most of them appear to be related to sexual relations between men. “Now the main thing is to locate the contacts of all the cases and from there try to stop the transmission of the virus," said Ruiz Escudero.
In Spain, at least six autonomous regions have registered possible cases of the virus. The Canary Islands have confirmed the first case after the National Centre for Microbiology revealed the results of the samples of one of the two suspected cases.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed more than 80 cases worldwide and announced a working protocol with the affected countries, more than a dozen according to its estimates, when it comes to improving "their understanding of the scope and the causes of the disease” that it describes as "endemic in the animal populations of several countries."
The president of the United States, Joe Biden, said on Sunday that monkeypox “is something that everyone should be concerned about”, although only one case has been confirmed in his country and there are several more under study.
The initial symptoms are similar to chickenpox, but milder. They include fever, headache, muscle pain, back pain, swollen lymph glands, shivering and exhaustion. There may be a rash, which usually starts on the face and then extends to other parts of the body including the genitals. The rash changes and goes through different stages, and can resemble chickenpox or syphilis, before finally forming a scab which falls off later.
The illness was discovered in 1958 when two outbreaks were detected in colonies of monkeys kept for research purposes, although the first case in humans was notified in August 1970 in Bokenda, a remote village in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The first infections occurred through contact with infected animals and then between humans, where transmission occurred through saliva, respiratory excretions, contact with an oozing wound or scab, and also through faeces. Experts say it is not only transmitted through homosexual relations, as anyone who comes into contact with infected fluids can catch it. They also say that the type which is causing the outbreaks in Europe is milder than the one in central Africa, which is potentially more dangerous.