Four confirmed cases of monkeypox in Catalonia

Affected patients are people who have been linked to other cases detected in the State

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Dermatologic lesions caused by smallpox.

BarcelonaHealth has confirmed this Thursday afternoon that four more cases of monkeypox have been detected in Catalonia. They are all people with links to other cases detected in the State. These are the first confirmed cases in Spain, after over twenty cases were detected in the rest of Spain, most of them in Madrid.

Health Authorities explained they started screening on May 17 after the first cases were notified. The process to confirm the disease, however, requires microbiology and sequencing studies that are not immediate, which is why it took this long to confirm the cases.

Symptoms: headache, fever, muscle aches and skin rashes

Monkeypox is a rare disease of animal origin. It was first detected in humans in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Since then it has been detected in different countries of West and Central Africa, and cases of infection have also been documented in the United States, the United Kingdom, Israel and Singapore, but they have always been associated with an imported case or direct contact with animal carriers, especially monkeys and rodents –there have been cases among people living with rats–. No case had ever been detected in Spain.

The disease is transmitted through saliva or respiratory excretions, or by contact with the exudate of the lesion or the crust material of skin lesions. It can also be transmitted through faeces and sexual intercourse. According to the Ministry of Health, however, monkeypox is not particularly contagious from person to person. The incubation period is usually 7 to 14 days, but can also extend from 5 to 21 days, and the disease remains in the body for 2 to 4 weeks.

The clinical picture resembles that of the now eradicated smallpox, although the symptoms are somewhat milder: fever, headache, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes (lymphadenopathy) and fatigue. A few days after the onset of fever, a rash develops, often starting on the face and then spreading to other parts of the body. Most people recover within a few weeks, but, in some cases, severe illness may occur and require hospitalisation.