Spallanzani Hospital in Rome. Crédito editorial: Sergio Di Pasquale Luci /

Monkeypox cases in Italy rises to 5


Italian monkeypox cases rose to five on Tuesday. A man returning from a holiday on the Canary Islands has the disease.

The Spallanzani Hospital is Italy’s premier infectious-disease institute. It said the new case had “clinical and transmission characteristics similar to the previous ones”. A 32-year-old man who returned to Arezzo on May 15th from a holiday in the Canary Islands has the disease.

The Arezzo man is being treated at Arezzo’s San Donato hospital. It is the first case in Tuscany. Four other men are being treated at the Spallanzani, in Rome. In addition, 15 men who had been in contact with them are now self-isolating, across the Lazio region surrounding Rome, the hospital said.

Moneypox origins

The first Italian case of monkey smallpox, or monkeypox, was also a man who had recently returned from a stay in the Canary Islands.

Monkeypox was first discovered in 1958 when two outbreaks of a pox-like disease occurred in colonies of monkeys kept for research, hence the name ‘monkeypox.’ The first human case of monkeypox was recorded in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Since then monkeypox had mainly been reported in humans in other central and western African countries.

The World Health Organization said it was monitoring the “quickly evolving situation” after recent reported cases in Britain, Spain and the United States, as well as Italy, sources said Monday.

The WHO has now confirmed over a hundred cases with outbreaks in at least 12 countries.

What is monkeypox?

Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle pains, swollen lymph nodes, and a rash that forms blisters and crusts over. Monkeypox can be contracted from close contact with an infected person, sexual relations, contaminated objects, handling bushmeat and an animal bite or scratch.

It is not an airborne virus, and its several strains are very far from being as contagious as COVID-19.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said “most of the cases of monkeypox in Europe have presented with slight symptoms and, for the broader population, the probability of spread is very low”. 85 cases have been detected in eight EU countries: Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, and Sweden.

Many of those who have contracted it are gay men. However, the United Nations AIDS body, UNAIDS, has condemned what it called “stigmatising language”.  Monkeypox is not classified as a sexually transmitted disease. However, it can be contracted via the exchange of bodily fluids, whether through close physical contact or through sexual relations.

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