On Wednesday, Greece’s health authorities confirmed the first case of monkeypox in the country.
According to the Organization for Public Health (EODY) a man who had previously traveled to Portugal has—upon the first examination—tested positive for the virus after seeking medical attention due to symptoms resembling those of monkeypox.
The man is hospitalized at the Andreas Syngros Hospital in Athens as further test results are being awaited.
Initial testing for the non-variola Orthopoxvirus conducted on the man in question produced positive test results. These test results are being further examined by the Laboratory of Microbiology at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki while the patient is currently being hospitalized in stable condition.
Monkeypox cases proliferate
By June 7th, 577 monkeypox cases had been identified in eighteen European countries while 437 had been confirmed in ten countries outside of Europe. Earlier today, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that there have been over one thousand confirmed cases in 29 countries thus far.
According to evidence to date, monkeypox health risks to the general population remain relatively low, as the disease is mild in nature and self-contained. It is, furthermore, not highly contagious, and higher infection rates have been identified amongst individuals participating in same-sex sexual activity. Nonetheless, according to the WHO, the risk of monkeypox evolving into an epidemic does remain.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the WHO since 2017, cautions that though preventable, the possibility of a monkeypox epidemic in the said 29 countries does exist. He also revealed that there have been over 1,400 reported monkeypox cases within Africa, as well as 66 consequential deaths.
Ghebreyesus additionally commented on the unfortunate fact that a public health crisis is only taken seriously when wealthier nations are affected while the world turns a blind eye to health issues when contained in less developed countries.
The WHO is working in conjunction with other organizations, such as UNAIDS, to inform the public about the risks of monkeypox in hopes of containing the spread of the virus. There is also talk of proposing vaccination programs in certain countries to limit health risks. Vaccinations would be offered to individuals who had been exposed to the virus within the last four days either due to exposure in the workplace or through personal contacts.
The proposed vaccines were used in the inoculation of smallpox, a much deadlier virus, which posed a severe health risk in 1980, but they have been found to be effective in preventing monkeypox, as well. Those infected with the monkeypox virus are advised by the WHO to remain in isolation and stay home.