Argentina's Health Ministry of Health Sunday announced the first suspected case of monkeypox had been detected in the country and that it was being monitored closely.
The patient is a man who arrived May 16 from Spain, where he had stayed since April 28. He currently lives in the province of Buenos Aires, and has been isolated as a precaution.
He has been reported to be in good general condition after receiving symptomatic treatment.
The Ministry said in a statement that in the city of Buenos Aires, a case of a patient has been reported today who would be suffering from this disease without having been confirmed as it is still under investigation.
The affected man consulted a health center in the city of Buenos Aires on Sunday after presenting symptoms compatible with simian smallpox, such as pustules in different parts of the body and fever.
According to the Ministry, in order to carry out the follow-up and investigation, samples were taken for diagnosis and are being analyzed at the National Reference Laboratory INEI- ANLIS Dr. Carlos G. Malbrán in Buenos Aires.
While waiting for the results, a working group was created to coordinate the clinical, diagnostic and epidemiological actions leading to either confirm or rule out the case and provide adequate clinical care to the patient, as well as to implement measures to prevent possible transmission.
The Ministry also issued a series of recommendations for the population, among them that anyone presenting symptoms compatible with monkeypox (especially rashes) and a history of travel to areas where there are cases and/or any risk exposure to suspected, probable or confirmed cases, should take social isolation measures, implement respiratory protection measures and check with the health system.
The symptoms of monkeypox are similar to those of the eradicated smallpox, but somewhat milder, such as fever, headache, muscle and back pain, chills and exhaustion - and there is often swollen glands and a rash.
In recent weeks, cases have been discovered in several countries where the virus had not previously been detected. The World Health Organization has confirmed nearly 100 cases of monkeypox outside endemic regions and Belgium has already decreed a lockdown.
The UN health agency has also forecast more cases not directly linked to West and Central Africa are expected to be confirmed in the coming days. In Belgium, patients will have to be isolated for 21 days. The organization said it expects to identify more cases of monkeypox as it expands surveillance in countries where the disease is not normally found.
As of Saturday (21), 94 cases had been confirmed and 28 suspected cases of smallpox were reported in 15 countries that are not endemic for the virus, the UN agency said.
The WHO has vowed to provide further guidance and recommendations in the coming days on how to slow the spread of the disease and has not yet ruled on the application of quarantines.
Belgian health authorities made the decision on Friday, when the country registered its second confirmed case of the disease, according to local press reports. Those who have had contact with infected people do not need to self-isolate, but should remain vigilant, especially if they are in contact with vulnerable people.
Available information suggests that human-to-human transmission is occurring among people in close physical contact with symptomatic cases, the agency added.
Monkeypox is an infectious disease that is generally mild and endemic in parts of West and Central Africa. It is spread by close contact, and can be contained relatively easily through measures such as isolation and hygiene.
What seems to be happening now is that it has entered the population as a sexual form, as a genital form, and is spreading just like sexually transmitted infections, which has amplified its transmission around the world, David Heymann, a WHO official and an infectious disease expert, told Reuters.
Heymann said that an international committee of experts met by video conference to review what needed to be studied about the outbreak and communicated to the public, including whether there is asymptomatic spread, who is most at risk, and what the routes of transmission are.
The committee, however, is not the group that suggests declaring a public health emergency of international concern, the WHO's highest form of alert - and which was applied to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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