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HEALTH

Switzerland confirms first monkeypox case

Switzerland is among the latest countries to confirm a monkeypox case.

Switzerland confirms first monkeypox case
Monkeypox transmission is usually via close contact with infected animals such as rodents and monkeys, and is limited between people. It has only been fatal in rare cases. Photo: Sanjay Kanojia/AFP

Switzerland is among the latest countries to confirm a case of monkeypox, identifying one infected person who had reportedly recently travelled abroad.

The confirmed case comes in the Bern canton and the infected traveller is receiving outpatient treatment and self-isolating, according to a statement published on Saturday. Close contacts have been informed through contact tracing.

More than 80 monkeypox cases have been confirmed in the outbreak across Europe, with the US, Canada, Australia, and Israel also confirming cases.

Monkeypox is most common in rural areas of Central and West Africa, and while human infection is not usually fatal it can manifest itself through fever, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion and a chickenpox-like rash on the hands and face.

Transmission is usually via close contact with infected animals such as monkeys. The recent outbreak has surprised medical experts as monkeypox was previously thought to rarely spread between humans. Health agencies across Europe have reiterated that the risk to the wider public is thought to be low.

READ ALSO What isn’t covered by Switzerland’s compulsory health insurance?

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HEALTH

WHO says European festivals should go ahead despite monkeypox risk

Most new cases of monkeypox are currently detected in Western Europe. The World Health Organisation says this is no reason to cancel more than 800 festivals scheduled to take place on the continent this summer.

WHO says European festivals should go ahead despite monkeypox risk

The World Health Organization said Friday that European summer festivals should not be cancelled due to the monkeypox outbreak but should instead manage the risk of amplifying the virus.

A surge of monkeypox cases has been detected since May outside of the West and Central African countries where the disease has long been endemic.

Most of the new cases have been in Western Europe.

More than 3,200 confirmed cases and one death have now been reported to the WHO from 48 countries in total this year.

“We have all the summer festivals, concerts and many other events just starting in the northern hemisphere,” Amaia Artazcoz, the WHO’s mass gatherings technical officer, told a webinar entitled “Monkeypox outbreak and mass gatherings: Protecting yourself at festivals and parties”.

The events “may represent a conducive environment for transmission”, she said.

“These gatherings have really close proximity and usually for a prolonged period of time, and also a lot of frequent interactions among people,” Artazcoz explained.

“Nevertheless… we are not recommending postponing or cancelling any of the events in the areas where monkeypox cases have been identified.”

Sarah Tyler, the senior communications consultant on health emergencies at WHO Europe, said there were going to be more than 800 festivals in the region, bringing together hundreds of thousands of people from different countries.

“Most attendees are highly mobile and sexually active and a number of them will have intimate skin-to-skin contact at or around these events,” she said.

“Some may also have multiple sexual contacts, including new or anonymous partners. Without action, we risk seeing a surge in monkeypox cases in Europe this summer.”

Risk awareness

The UN health agency recommends that countries identify events most likely to be associated with the risk of monkeypox transmission.

The WHO urged festival organisers to raise awareness through effective communication, detect cases early, stop transmission and protect people at risk.

The outbreak in newly-affected countries is primarily among men who have sex with men, and who have reported recent sex with new or multiple partners, according to the WHO.

People with symptoms are advised to avoid attending gatherings, while people in communities among whom monkeypox has been found to occur more frequently than in the general population should exercise particular caution, it says.

The normal initial symptoms of monkeypox include a high fever, swollen lymph nodes and a blistery chickenpox-like rash.

Meg Doherty, from the global HIV, hepatitis and sexually-transmitted infection programmes at WHO, said: “We are not calling this a sexually-transmitted infection.

“Stigmatising never helps in a disease outbreak,” she added.

“This is not a gay disease. However, we want people to be aware of what the risks are.”

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