Spain reports second monkeypox death

Barcelona, ​​Spain — Spain reported a second death in as many days from monkeypox on Saturday. These are believed to be the first confirmed deaths from the disease in Europe since its recent spread beyond Africa.

The Madrid-based ministry said the two victims were young men. It reported its first death on Friday, the same day Brazil also reported its first death from monkeypox.

The global monkeypox outbreak has seen more than 22,000 cases in nearly 80 countries since May. There have been 75 suspected deaths in Africa, mostly in Nigeria and Congo, where a deadlier form of monkeypox is spreading than in the West.

In the United States and Europe, the vast majority of monkeypox infections have occurred in men who have sex with men, although health officials have stressed that anyone can catch the virus.

The deaths outside Africa come a week after the World Health Organization declared the monkeypox outbreak a global health emergency.

“The reporting of monkeypox deaths does not change our assessment of the epidemic in Europe. We know that although the disease clears up on its own in most cases, monkeypox can lead to serious complications,” said Catherine Smallwood, Senior Emergency Manager at WHO Europe.

“With the continued spread of monkeypox in Europe, we expect to see more deaths. Our goal must be to quickly interrupt transmission in Europe and stop this outbreak,” she said.

On Friday, Spain’s health ministry reported that 4,298 people were infected with the virus, making it the top European country for monkeypox cases. Of this total, some 3,500 cases involved men who had sex with other men. Only 64 were women.

The ministry said 120 people needed hospital treatment.

Smallwood said around 8% of monkeypox cases in Europe have required hospitalization.

Monkeypox has been endemic in parts of Africa for decades. His jump to Europe and North America has been linked by experts to two raves in Belgium and Spain.

Spanish health authorities are administering 5,300 vaccines that Spain has received from the EU’s joint vaccine purchase programme. Health workers say this is far fewer than the number needed to cover at-risk groups.

But the rush to purchase limited vaccines by wealthier Western countries puts Africa in danger of being left behind.

Monkeypox is primarily spread through skin-to-skin contact, but it can also be transmitted through bedding used by someone with monkeypox. Symptoms include fever, body aches, chills, fatigue, and hives. The disease has been relatively mild in many men. But people can be contagious for weeks and the lesions can be extremely painful.

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AP medical writer Maria Cheng contributed to this report from London.

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