Portugal: Number of confirmed cases of monkeypox rises to 37

The number of confirmed cases of Monkeypox rose to 37 and are spread across the regions of Lisbon and Tagus Valley, North and Algarve, announced the national health authority, DGS, on Monday, adding that patients are “stable and under outpatient care”.

The DGS said in a statement that 14 more cases of human infection by the Monkeypox virus were confirmed by the National Health Institute Dr. Ricardo Jorge (INSA), which increased the total number of cases confirmed so far in Portugal to 37.

“Among the available samples, the West African clade (subgroup of the virus), which is the least aggressive, was identified through sequencing,” it stresses.

According to the DGS, epidemiological surveys of suspected cases that are being detected are underway, with the aim of identifying chains of transmission and potential new cases and respective contacts.

Regarding the situation of patients, the DGS says they remain “in clinical monitoring, being stable and in outpatient care”. 

The DGS advises people who present ulcerative lesions, rash, palpable nodes, possibly accompanied by fever, chills, headache, muscle pain and fatigue, to seek medical advice.

“The measures to be implemented in case of suspicious symptoms are stressed, and individuals should refrain from direct physical contact with other people and from sharing clothes, towels, sheets and personal objects while skin lesions are present, at any stage, or other symptoms,” it adds.

The DGS continues to monitor the situation at national level in liaison with European institutions.

The rare disease, named after the virus, is endemic in West and Central Africa, but less dangerous than smallpox, eradicated from the world 40 years ago. 

The Monkeypox virus was first discovered in 1958 when two outbreaks of a smallpox-like disease occurred in monkey colonies kept for research, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.

As monkeys are not the natural host of the virus, which remains unknown, experts believe it is incorrect to refer to the disease or infection as “monkeypox”. 

However, monkeys and African rodents can harbour the virus and infect people, says the CDC.

The first human case of infection with the Monkeypox virus was reported in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo, during a period of renewed efforts to eradicate smallpox. Since then, several countries in West and Central Africa have reported cases.

According to the World Health Organization, the recent Monkeypox outbreak affects 12 countries, where 92 cases have been reported. 

According to the CDC, infections in people that have occurred outside Africa are linked to international travel or imported animals.

The incubation period (time from infection to onset of symptoms) of the Monkeypox virus is generally 7 to 14 days. 

The disease lasts an average of two to four weeks and in Africa kills up to one in 10 people, according to the CDC.

Although the disease does not require specific therapy, the smallpox vaccine, antivirals and vaccinia immunoglobulin (VIG) can be used as prevention and treatment for Monkeypox.