MADRID: Spain and Brazil reported their first monkeypox-related deaths on Friday, marking what are thought to be the first fatalities linked to the current outbreak outside of Africa.
Spain is one of the worst affected countries in the world, with 4,298 people infected with the virus, according to the emergency and alert coordination center of the Western European country’s Health Ministry.
“Of the 3,750 (monkeypox) patients for whom information is available, 120 cases were hospitalized (3.2%) and one case died,” the center said in a report.
An official would not give a specific cause of death pending the results of an autopsy.
In Brazil, a 41-year-old man died of monkeypox, local authorities reported on Friday.
The man, who local media said suffered from serious immune system problems, died Thursday in Belo Horizonte, the capital of the South American state of Minas Gerais.
He was “receiving hospital treatment for other serious conditions,” the health ministry said in a statement.
“It is important to emphasize that he had serious comorbidities, so as not to sow panic in the population. The mortality rate is very low” for monkeypox, said Minas Gerais Health Secretary Fabio Baccheretti , who added that the patient was undergoing treatment for cancer.
The Brazilian Ministry of Health has recorded nearly 1,000 cases of monkeypox, mostly in the states of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, which are also in the southeast of the country.
Early signs of illness include high fever, swollen lymph nodes, and a chickenpox-like rash.
The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the monkeypox outbreak a global health emergency last Saturday.
According to the United Nations health agency, more than 18,000 cases have been detected outside Africa since the beginning of May.
The disease has been detected in 78 countries, with 70% of cases found in Europe and 25% in the Americas, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Wednesday.
As cases rise around the world, the WHO has called on the group currently most affected by the virus – men who have sex with men – to limit their sexual partners.
Ghebreyesus told reporters that the best way to protect against infection was “to reduce the risk of exposure”.
“For men who have sex with men, this includes, for now, reducing your number of sex partners, reconsidering sex with new partners, and exchanging contact information with any new partners to allow for a follow-up if necessary,” he said.
The disease usually heals on its own after two to three weeks, sometimes taking a month.
A smallpox vaccine from Danish drugmaker Bavarian Nordic, marketed as Jynneos in the United States and Imvanex in Europe, has also been shown to protect its receptors against monkeypox.