Ukrainian health officials on Thursday confirmed the country’s first case of monkeypox, which has spread to more than 100 countries worldwide, primarily affecting gay men.
The case was confirmed by a Ukrainian medical laboratory, which conducted a PCR test on the patient. Among the symptoms reported by the man were a high temperature and a rash on his body. According to the Ukrainian Ministry of Health, the patient had no contact with known monkeypox patients and had not traveled abroad.
Endemic to parts of West and Central Africa, monkeypox cases began appearing in Europe earlier this year, with the World Health Organization (WHO) declaring the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern in July. According to WHO figures from last week, more than 52,000 cases and 18 deaths have been confirmed in 102 countries.
The virus overwhelmingly affects gay and bisexual men, who make up 98% of patients, according to a paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine last month. While the WHO is uncertain whether sexual activity is the only means of transmitting the virus, the paper noted that 95% of patients studied contracted it via sex with other men.
In the US and Europe, cases have been reported in children and animals.
Monkeypox is similar to human smallpox, which was eradicated in 1980. Its symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills, and exhaustion, and those afflicted develop distinctive skin lesions. These symptoms generally recede within two to four weeks, and those affected usually make a full recovery.
A combined monkeypox/smallpox vaccine manufactured by Bavarian Nordic has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency. No vaccines have been made available in Ukraine, with the health ministry’s website citing “the lack of registered cases and the reduced probability of their introduction.”
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