Scientists monitoring the monkeypox outbreak in Africa said they were “confused” about how the disease spread Europe and North America because it was a disease that occurred in people with connections to Central and West Africa.
“It astounded me. Every day I wake up and there are more and more countries infected,” said Owewele Tomori, a virologist and former director of the Nigerian Academy of Sciences and a member of several advisory boards for the World Health Organization (WHO). .
In the past week, Britain, Spain, Portugal, Italy, the United States, Sweden and Canada have reported infections, mostly in young adults who have never traveled to Africa and who have now been reported. cases They arrived from those countries to Argentina and Mexico.
According to the World Health Organization, there are about 80 confirmed cases worldwide and another 50 suspected, while France, Germany, Belgium and Australia reported their first cases on Saturday.
“This is not the kind of spread we’ve seen in West Africa, so something new may happen in the West,” Tomori said in comments reported by ABC News.
Nigeria has reported nearly 3,000 cases monkey pox year, according to the World Health Organization.
“These outbreaks usually occur in rural areas, when people are in close contact with infected mice and squirrels,” Tomori said, noting that many cases are likely to be missed.
None of the Nigerian contacts of the British patients have shown symptoms, and investigations are still ongoing, said Evidio Aditiva, head of the Nigerian Center for Disease Control.
The director of the World Health Organization for Europe, Hans Kluge, described the outbreak as “unusual” and said that the appearance of the disease in several countries on the continent indicated that “the transmission of infection has been going on for some time.”
Scientists said that while the first patient in the outbreak may have contracted the disease while in Africa, what is happening now is rare.
“We’ve never seen anything like what’s happening in Europe,” said Christian Happe, director of the African Center for Excellence in Infectious Disease Genomics.
“We haven’t seen anything to suggest that monkeypox transmission patterns have changed in Africa. So if something different happens in Europe, Europe needs to look at that,” he cautioned.
Shabbir Mahdi, professor of vaccinology at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, said a detailed investigation of the outbreak in Europe, including determining who the first patients were, was now necessary.
He said: “We need to really understand how this started and why the virus is spreading now. . . ”