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While WHO Warns of ‘Real Risk’, Brazil Confirms its First Monkeypox Case

Brazil has confirmed its first case of Monkeypox in a 41-year-old man, who had returned from Europe, the Health Ministry announced on Thursday.

Monkeypox is a rare disease generally confined to western and Central Africa. It is related to smallpox, with typical symptoms including a rash that spreads, fevers, chills, muscle, and backache, among other such symptoms. According to WHO, Monkeypox usually lasts 2 or 4 weeks, with an incubation period typically of 6 to 13 days.

The first Brazilian person infected with Monkeypox had traveled to both Spain and Portugal, the Health Ministry said. The person was treated in a hospital and was in ‘good condition’, provided his close contacts were kept under observation.

Brazil is the third Latin American country to have reported a case of this virus, after Argentina and Mexico. Earlier, Argentina had recorded the first instance of monkeypox in Latin America in the latter half of May.

The monkeypox virus is endemic in 9 African countries, but cases have been reported recently in several non-endemic European as well as American countries. Mass vaccination had not been advised by the UN Health Agency for the particular outbreak since no deaths have been reported so far.

However, the risk of monkeypox being impactful in non-endemic countries is real, the WHO warned, with the number of cases crossing 1000. "The risk of Monkeypox becoming established in non-endemic countries is real," Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Chief, told a press conference. The 1,000 cases have come from 29 countries, notably European countries of Brazil, Spain, and Portugal, Germany.

Monkeypox virus has mostly appeared in men who have indulged in sexual intercourse with other men, but not entirely. Some countries have even started to report cases of community transmission, including cases in women. Tedros has expressed particular concern about the risk the virus might pose to more vulnerable sections of the society, including pregnant women and children.

Regarding the unexpected appearance of the Monkeypox virus in non-endemic countries, Tedros said that there might have been undetected transmission for some time but it was unknown for how long it took place. Even a single confirmed case of the virus is considered an outbreak because of the increasing community transmission levels.

Due to the limited supply of approved antivirals and vaccines for Monkeypox, they are first provided to those who are at the risk of most exposure, that is the healthcare workers. Therefore, Tedros has suggested that people with symptoms should isolate themselves in their homes and even avoid close contact with those staying with them.  

Tedros also made a remark on how the virus has already affected third-world countries in Africa for decades, and there is more attention to the disease now that it has reached high-income affluent countries of the world. “The communities living with the threat of the virus every day deserve the same concern, the same care, and the same tools to protect themselves”, the WHO Chief concluded.

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